A SpaceX rocket, carrying astronauts, lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 23, 2021.
By Al Root
SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk said his space company can be ready to go to the moon in the next three years.
Musk said in a Saturday Twitter post responding to a question about the timeline that SpaceX’s lunar lander would be ready for its moon mission “probably sooner” than 2024.
SpaceX won NASA’s lunar lander contract in April, beating Jeff Bezos’s space company Blue Origin and Leidos (ticker: LDOS) unit Dynetics for the job.
The NASA program, dubbed Artemis, is slated to take astronauts, including women, to the moon in 2024. SpaceX will make a reusable lander it calls Starship that will eventually carry people to Mars if Musk’s ultimate ambitions are realized.
Blue Origin and Leidos both protested the victory, a fairly typical step with government contracting processes. The protests were denied at the end of July. NASA paid SpaceX $300 million of the total $3 billion contract award on July 30, the day the Blue Origin and Dynetics protests were denied.
SpaceX is readying for Starship to make its first orbital flight circling the globe, although a launch date hasn’t been set. The ship has been tested, sometimes with spectacular results, but a few early models have exploded.
The Starship and its booster rocket are huge, standing almost 400 feet tall when stacked. For context, the Statue of Liberty stands about 300 feet tall if you include the pedestal.
SpaceX isn’t publicly traded. Its most recent valuation is about $74 billion. In addition to NASA business, SpaceX is building a constellation of small satellites to deliver high speed internet access across the globe.
On the other hand, Tesla—Musk’s other venture—is publicly traded and is the world’s most valuable auto company. Tesla stock is up almost 2% year to date, trailing behind 19% and 16% comparable, respective returns of the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average.