Lunar spaceflight: Two races to the Moon are hotting up

Lunar spaceflight
Two races to the Moon are hotting up
from The Economist

Five teams are now competing to land robots on the Moon by the end of this year and win the $30m Google Lunar XPRIZE

On Feb Elon Musk said SpaceX had agreed to send two customers around the Moon in 2018. NASA is considering something similar with astronauts

It’s not like ‘private sector v public’: 1) SpaceX can offer such a trip thanks to NASA’s previous largesse; 2) NASA might pay SpaceX again

SpaceX’s rocket is far cheaper than NASA’s. But NASA has a big support in the Senate, & some in Washington distrust capricious billionaires

Mr Trump has yet to appoint a NASA administrator. But his speech to Congress hinted his ambition to leave footprints on the Moon by 2026

China sent a rover to the Moon in 2013 & plans to return rocks to Earth this year. There are other races to land people on the Moon by 2030

It would be wise to expect delays. It’s a tall order for SpaceX to send a crew-carrying reusable aircraft around the Moon by the end of 2018

Purchasers of the trip might be Steve Jurvetson, a venture capitalist on SpaceX’s board, & James Cameron who must spectacularly document it