On this day fifty years ago, Neil Armstrong put his first step on the lunar surface - it was the first step by any human being on other planetary body. And now, the 21st century sequel is heating up – all thanks to SpaceX’s Elon Musk. Yes, you read it right. SpaceX founder Elon Musk has said that the unmanned SpaceX Starship could land on the Moon by 2021, following which, a manned moon mission could be a quick possibility.
According to a report published by CNET on Thursday, Elon Musk asserted that he believes his company's Starship spacecraft could return humans to the surface of the moon just a few years from now.
"Well, this is gonna sound pretty crazy, but I think we could land on the moon in less than two years." 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," Musk said.
Musk's conservative estimate for sending people back to the moon aboard a SpaceX vehicle is 2023, a year before NASA hopes to send a crew to visit the moon as part of its Artemis programme, that would also include a female astronaut, CNET reported further.
Earlier this year, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine stated that the space agency could consider using a third-party rocket like the SpaceX Falcon Heavy for returning to the lunar surface but later clarified that Artemis programme would use NASA's new Space Launch System.
Taking cues from NASA's plans, Musk added that the quickest way back to the moon may be to go it alone. "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," he noted.
“On Tuesday, a hold-down test firing of a single-engine Starship prototype ended with an unexpected fireball. Even though the prototype did not appear to be seriously damaged, this week's plans for the so-called 'Starhopper' to lift off the ground for the first time and hover before landing were subsequently delayed,” the CNET report said.
It is to be noted that earlier this week, Musk's SpaceX and NASA announced that the Dragon explosion was traced back to a leak in the craft's pressurisation system.