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Dear Moon - Space Travel

Recently, Karim was selected for the Dear Moon mission, the first civilian flight which will go around the moon aboard the starship rocket. The last time anyone flew near the moon was 50 years years ago in 1972 so this will be an incredibly historic mission. Over 1 million people applied for this trip, from 249 countries, and Karim was selected to document the journey. Karim will be the first Arab to fly to the moon, and there have only ever been 3 Middle Eastern astronauts. This is also the first group of artist, as well as the first trip with a professional photographer to go to space. The trip trajectory will take Karim approximately 1000 times farther into space than the international space station. Karim will be flying in the largest rocket to ever fly, the starship superheavy. Out of 8 billion people, only 565 people have been to space (earth’s orbit or higher). In the history of humanity, only 24 people have flown to the moon. The last trip was over 50 years ago. Karim will be amongst the first to go back and documenting the journey.

Karim Iliya

Photographer & Filmmaker

Karim Iliya is a photographer, filmmaker, future space explorer, and whale swimming guide based in Iceland and Hawaii. He was recently selected as part of the dearMoon mission aboard the Starship rocket. Karim and the rest of the dearMoon crew will undertake the first civilian flight around the moon.

Karim grew up in the Middle East and Asia and developed a curiosity for the natural world which has taken him into the midst of exploding volcanoes, battling whales, ice worlds of the Arctic, and many of the fascinating places where humans and animals make their homes. In summer, Karim leads whale swimming trips in the South Pacific and elsewhere, introducing people to the ocean’s gentle giants.

Through his photography and films, Karim takes his audiences to hidden underwater worlds as well as documenting other natural places in an effort to protect our delicate ecosystems on Earth. Karim has worked in over 45 countries, won multiple awards and been published in National Geographic Magazine and BBC Earth.

Before rocketing his way around the Moon, join Karim as he leads one of our 2024 Svalbard Polar Bear Explorer trips, in search of stunning frozen landscapes and incredible Arctic wildlife including the polar bear, reindeer, seals, Arctic fox, whales, and more!Explore the stunning Spitsbergen Archipelago aboard the M/V Kinfish; an intimate ship charters focusing on sightings of the amazing polar bear and other Arctic wildlife of Svalbard. You will sail north from Longyearbyen exploring the western coast of Spitsbergen in search of colonies of walrus as well as other resident marine mammals. Setting sail during the heart of the Arctic summer, the sea ice will be fragmented, sending ice floes along the eastern part of the Archipelago. Searching these principle hunting grounds for the polar bear, the M/V Kinfish provides an unique opportunity to observe this majestic creature.

“As I document this incredible journey and share this story, I hope to grow and understand how to do my part to make things better for all life on Earth.”

-Karim's Projects-

Kogia - Free media library and production studio

He recently cofounded Kogia, a non-profit media library and film team dedicated to ocean conservation. Kogia is a nonprofit free media library and production studio dedicated to protecting marine life. "We are a team of award-winning photographers and filmmakers who tell stories about the ocean and the people who protect it."

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“Photography lets me see the Earth in a new way, where I take my time looking at the details that you don’t usually see, and are difficult to process so quickly. Beyond anything I could have dreamed of, in the next few years, it will take me onto the largest rocket ship that has ever flown, off our planet to document the first civilian trip to the moon."