SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is an ambitious guy. He's the one who said he can get commercial flights to Mars up and running a decade or so from now, but what about humanity's return to the moon? Well, if you ask Musk, the moon's little more than old news.
Musk has been making the rounds to talk up his company a lot these days as part of the lead-up to a (hopefully) historic SpaceX launch next week. On April 30 the company will launch an unmanned Dragon capsule to dock with the International Space Station. If it succeeds, the mission will mark the first time a private space vessel has docked with the space station, paving the way for more breakthroughs for private spaceflight in the coming years.
Musk, who not only heads the company but also serves as its chief designer, has his fingers crossed that the mission will go smoothly, but he's also already looking ahead to what else SpaceX can do. He's been talking about the Mars flights—which would use many more re-usable components than NASA missions and thus be cheaper—for weeks, but what about the moon? It's on the way, after all, so wouldn't it make sense to try to get there first before going for the Red Planet? Not for Musk. Or at least, not unless he can do something more than just visit.
"I'm okay with going to the moon, but we've seen that movie before, and remakes are never as good," he said. "It would be more significant to have a base on the moon, rather than just going back."
Moon bases and Mars missions seem farther and farther away these days, but if SpaceX's mission next week goes as planned, they could suddenly be closer. What do you think? Can Musk and company pull all this off, or do we have to wait for NASA to see real spaceflight progress?