Now that NASA's space shuttle program has officially retired, private companies are widely expected to lead the next era of human space flight. Companies like SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and ... Domino's Pizza?

The U.S. pizza company's Japanese arm has announced "plans" to open a new restaurant on the moon, via a bizarre website — — and an awkward video that features the president of Domino's Japan wearing a spacesuit.

This "Moon Branch Project" would cost 1.67 trillion yen ($21.7 billion), with about a third of that paying for 15 rockets to haul 70 tons of construction equipment and pizza-making supplies. The company says it will cut costs by using some local resources: It plans to build the restaurant's main dome, for example, out of concrete made from moon rocks.

"We started thinking about this project last year, although we have not yet determined when the restaurant might open," Domino's spokesman Tomohide Matsunaga tells the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph. "In the future, we anticipate there will be many people living on the moon, astronauts who are working there and, in the future, citizens of the moon."

Domino's is apparently trying to one-up rival Pizza Hut, which famously delivered a pizza to the International Space Station in 2001. But it's worth noting that Pizza Hut actually pulled off that publicity stunt (with the help of Russia). For Domino's to build a restaurant on the moon ... well, I'd rather not finish that sentence.

Still, anything that boosts public interest in space is likely a good thing, especially at a time when NASA's future is hazy and Russia is struggling to supply the ISS. As Ian O'Neill of Discovery News points out, the Japanese beer company Sapporo aced a cosmic PR stunt in 2008, selling 100 "space beers" made with barley that had been grown on the ISS. But since it will be a very long time before Domino's builds any moon bases, it can't offer customers that kind of tangible reward to cap off its campaign. There are no "space pizzas" yet.

Still, that doesn't mean we're left empty-handed. Domino's Japan isn't just offering us a silly sci-fi fantasy — it's offering us whimsical, full-color illustrations of a silly sci-fi fantasy. See below:

And, my personal favorite, the play room:

Via Daily Telegraph, Discovery News,

All images courtesy of Domino's Japan.

Russell McLendon ( @russmclendon ) writes about humans and other wildlife.

Domino's Pizza launches lunar lunacy
The pizza company announces 'plans' to build the first restaurant on the moon, but can't guarantee delivery in 30 minutes or less.