Elon Musk argued in the interview that SpaceX could land uncrewed vehicles moon within two years and crewed vehicles within a year or two after that. He insisted that the ultimate goal is to establish a lunar base that would be similar to the base in Antarctica. Although it would be easier to send people to the moon like the Apollo 11 mission, Musk remarked that the, “the remake’s never as good as the original.” SpaceX is therefore currently focusing on its Super Heavy and Starship ships to deliver larger payloads to the moon.
Illustration of the Space "BFR" or "Super Heavy"
Musk confessed that the biggest obstacle to the establishment of a lunar base is NASA’s caution and skepticism. Many NASA engineers do not believe a lunar base is feasible or worth the risk. Musk commented, “It may literally be easier to just land Starship on the moon than try to convince NASA that we can.” At the moment it is unclear whether SpaceX truly does mean to land on the moon on their own or to continue to collaborate with NASA or other companies and government agencies.
The interview also contained quite a bit of information about the origins of SpaceX and reusability. Musk was greatly inspired by the Apollo missions and frustrated by the lack of progress in the 1990s and 2000s. He originally tried to purchase decommissioned ICBMs from Russia, but his efforts were futile. He eventually realized that NASA and other government agencies would never be able to succeed if they did not have good rocket contractors. He argued that “full and rapid reusability” is the key to lunar and Martian bases. He also insisted that Tesla is working hard to develop a sustainable energy economy on Earth.
SpaceX Falcon Heavy Launch
Although the interview did not discuss the topic, SpaceX and NASA are also both working on expanding space tourism. Yasaku Maezawa will reportedly get the chance to fly around the moon in 2023 in SpaceX’s Super Heavy. NASA also plans to open the ISS to tourists in 2020. The astronauts will need to get to the ISS and back to earth by personally paying for a seat aboard a commercial US spacecraft. They will also need to pay $35,000 per day on the ISS for life support, communication, and other necessary goods and services.
Musk noted, “...well at least for me and I think probably for a lot of people you want to have a sense that the future’s gonna be better than the past.” At the moment, there certainly seems a lot to look forward to in space.