British photographer chosen for SpaceX trip around the moon

Photographer Rhiannon Adam will make history at the first openly-queer woman to travel to space after securing a place on SpaceX's trip around the moon

A British photographer saw off a million other hopefuls to secure a place on a private trip around the moon on a SpaceX spaceship.

Rhiannon Adam, 37, who is based in Hackney, is among eight artists and creatives picked by Japanese billionaire entrepreneur and art collector Yusaku Maezawa to be part of the journey.

Ms Adam described the trip, set to see a civilian crew orbit the moon for around seven days before returning to Earth, as “like an impossible dream coming true”.

Crewmates include Grammy award-nominated music producer Steve Aoki, South Korean rapper TOP, Indian TV actor Dev Joshi and US natural life documentary filmmaker Brendan Hall.

Czech choreographer, art director and performer Yemi AD, photographer Karim Iliya and US content creator Tim Dodd have also booked their places after passing selection, interviews and medical checks.

Mission chiefs said Ms Adam will be the first openly queer woman to go to space.

The trip, called dearMoon, is expected to take place next year aboard Starship, a rocket being developed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

It comes after Mr Maezawa, who wanted to “open up the opportunity of going to space to more and more diverse talents”, put out a call for crew members on dearMoon’s website in March 2021.

The invite drew more than one million applications from 249 countries and regions.

Ms Adam said: “Every day I pinch myself. It seems like an impossible dream coming true. I aim to create work that does justice to this transformative experience.

“In the middle of the pandemic, we were, of course, all grounded, which was incredibly frustrating for me as I felt that I’d lost my purpose.

“But then, while idly scrolling Twitter, I came across dearMoon and it seemed like the most epic and life-changing adventure.

“When I discovered that I was selected, I cried, and I’m not usually much of a crier.

“I think it was overwhelming and had seemed just so impossible, and even then it didn’t seem real. It did make me think that perhaps I should have played the lottery more.”

The chance to try to become part of the crew came “in the middle of the pandemic and I was craving an adventure. This seemed like the perfect opportunity”, Ms Adam said.

She added: “I spend a lot of my life working with a lot of remote communities and it felt like a natural thing to do, to apply to go to space and explore the most remote community ever, which would be us in space.”

Rhiannon Adam, 37, who is part of the crew set for the first civilian trip to the moon Credit: dearMoon/PA

Mr Maezawa, also known as MZ, said: “I had deep conversations with each candidate, asking them about their childhood, why they are dreaming about going to space, what kind of challenges they would like to undertake.

“They are all fantastic people.

“There isn’t a set task for each of them but I hope each and everyone will recognise the responsibility that comes with leaving the Earth, travelling to the moon and back in seven days.

“They will gain a lot from this experience and I hope they will use that to contribute to the planet, to humanity.”

Kaitlyn Farrington, who won the snowboard halfpipe at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games for the US, and Japanese dancer and choreographer Miyu are back-up crew.

The Japanese tycoon took applications last year to join him on the flight after buying up all the seats on the spaceship in 2018.

Mr Maezawa completed a 12-day trip to the International Space Station on the Soyuz Russian spaceship last year.

The team will be among the first to travel on the SpaceX vehicle on what is expected to be a week-long trip that will come within 120 miles of the moon's surface while circling it for three days.

Last year, Mr Maezawa, 47, and his producer Yozo Hirano became the first self-paying tourists to visit the International Space Station since 2009.

Reports said he paid $80 million (£65 million) for the honour.

Mr Maezawa made his fortune in retail fashion, launching Japan’s largest online fashion mall, Zozotown. In 2019, he resigned as CEO of the e-commerce company Zozo Inc. to devote his time to space travel. Forbes magazine estimates his wealth at $1.9 billion (£1.55 billion).