Elon Musk says his SpaceX Starship could go to the moon by 2021

CNET | 7/18/2019 | Eric Mack
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It's been half a century since the space race between the Soviet Union and the US peaked with Apollo 11 and the first steps on the moon. But now the 21st century sequel is heating up courtesy of -- who else -- Elon Musk.

The SpaceX founder said in an interview published Thursday that he believes his company's Starship spacecraft could return humans to the surface of the moon just a few years from now.

Moon - Years - Musk - Time - Vehicle

"Well, this is gonna sound pretty crazy, but I think we could land on the moon in less than two years," Musk told Time. "Certainly with an uncrewed vehicle I believe we could land on the moon in two years. So then maybe within a year or two of that we could be sending crew. I would say four years at the outside."

In other words, Musk is saying his conservative estimate for sending people back to the moon aboard a SpaceX vehicle is 2023, the year before NASA hopes to send a crew -- including the first female astronaut to visit the moon -- as part of its new Artemis program.

Year - NASA - Administrator - Jim - Bridenstine

Earlier this year, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the space agency would consider using a third-party rocket like the SpaceX Falcon Heavy for its return to the moon, but later said that Artemis will definitely use NASA's new Space Launch System.

Musk added that the quickest way back to the moon may be to go it alone.

NASA - Authorities - Starship - Moon - Try

"If it were to take longer to convince NASA and the authorities that we can do it versus just doing it, then we might just do it. It may literally be easier to just land Starship on the moon than try to convince NASA that we can."

The process of qualifying a new spacecraft to fly NASA missions, especially involving crew, can...
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