SpaceX moon tourist most excited about seeing Earth from afar

Sure, the moon is cool, but seeing Earth from space can be a mind-altering experience.

This image from the Apollo 17 voyage shows the whole big blue marble of Earth. 

If all goes as planned, Japanese billionaire entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa and a SpaceX BFR spaceship full of artists will zip around the moon in 2023. That may be some years off, but Maezawa has already shared what he's most excited about, and it's not the moon itself.

"Personally, seeing the round earth would be more exciting than seeing the moon up close," Maezawa tweeted on Thursday. He followed that with another message saying, "When I see the earth round, I will absolutely cry, with deep appreciation for all, love and forgiveness."

Maezawa is talking about a phenomenon known as the Overview Effect, a term coined by author Frank White in a 1987 book of the same name.

NASA describes the effect as "an experience that transforms astronauts' perspective of the planet and mankind's place upon it. Common features of the experience are a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment."

Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins said in 2009 that his strongest memory of the famous 1969 moon mission was looking back at Earth from a great distance. 

"I really believe that if the political leaders of the world could see their planet from a distance of 100,000 miles their outlook could be fundamentally changed," Collins wrote.

SpaceX and its founder Elon Musk unveiled Maezawa as its moon-mission customer earlier in September. Maezawa, known as a deep-pocketed art patron, said he intends to take a diverse group of artists along for the trip as part of a project called #dearMoon.

If Maezawa's expectations come true, those artists might find just as much inspiration in seeing our Blue Marble as they will from circling the moon.

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