Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Single billionaire seeks female companion for out-of-this-world date.

You may have seen the news that Japanese billionaire and would-be space tourist Yusaku Maezawa is looking for a girlfriend to join him on a trip to the moon.

The 44-year-old who made his fortune as an online fashion retailer is recruiting contestants for a reality show that will eventually choose his date for a future trip to the moon aboard Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Maezawa’s dream date must be at least 20 years old and, obviously, interested in going into space. He also wants a woman who “wishes for world peace,” for what that’s worth.

Sorry to break it to Maezawa, but the best would-be moon dates are already taken — by NASA. And they’re going to the moon on their own impressive merits, not on the arm of a rich and lonely space tourist.

The space agency announced last year that its newest moon mission, Artemis, will send a woman and man to the moon in 2024. The new lunar exploration, which is named for the goddess of the moon and sister of Apollo, is designed to establish a long-term exploratory presence on the moon.

Also earlier this month, NASA introduced the latest class of 11 new astronauts, six of whom are women.

Since the dawn of human space travel, more than 60 women from eight countries have been to space — 50 of them Americans.

American women have commanded the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle. Last year, two American astronauts took the first all-female space walk.

None of them accomplished their firsts by catching the eye of a rich bachelor.

Perhaps Maezawa’s frivolous quest for a space date isn’t too demeaning. After all, he’s not aiming to get to the moon on his merits either.

But serious, scientific space exploration isn’t a game, and NASA’s commitment to specifically send a woman to the moon on its next mission is important and long overdue.

The first woman on the moon should not be a billionaire’s reality-show-winning plus one, but an accomplished, skilled astronaut. There are plenty of worthy contenders for the honor.

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