SpaceX Announce Plans for ‘Moon Base Alpha’ in Preparation for Mars City

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“It’s 2017, we should have a lunar base by now!” – Elon Musk, reported by Google Lunar XPRIZE. With that statement, you can be sure that we will have one, Elon Musk is the kind of man that once he sets his sights on a goal, he gets it done.

Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, the largest and most successful private space company ever, isn’t new to making bold statements that will have top scientists at NASA and across the globe turning their heads and wondering how such things could ever be achieved so soon. Yet, the clock keeps ticking, and SpaceX are still on target for their ambitious goal of sending supplies to Mars in 2022 and have people on the surface by 2024.

Musk’s dream of a Mars Base, Credit: SpaceX

Talks of a lunar base have been thrown around plenty in the space business, but considering we haven’t even put a man on the moon since 1972, a full base seems like one giant leap to make. However, with the BFR (Big Falcon Rocket, formally the Big F******g Rocket), Musk will have the technology and firepower to achieve these goals. Plans are already being put into action to take two currently unnamed tourists on a sightseeing flyby of the moon with their departure date set to be late 2018. That leaves a 6 year window between this mission and 2022, the year when Musk wants to be sending rockets to Mars, for a moon base to be set up.

The announcement of a Lunar Base, currently being referred to as Moonbase Alpha (named after the moon base from the popular 70’s TV show, Space 1999), could have been a response from big names in the space industry calling for a need for one before we set our sights on mars, including ex ISS commander, Chris Hadfield.

Hadfield, arguably the greatest modern astronaut, has pushed for a lunar base as a stepping stone, to launch humanity further than we’ve ever been before. A moon base has many benefits on this front, with the reduced gravity, constructing the rockets on the moon and then taking off from there would massively reduce the required fuel for a trip to the red planet.

Musk and SpaceX have come under fire for being unrealistic with their timescales and technical abilities. Lockheed Martin, a competing space company, is one of the main voices of criticism. They themselves have just released plans for a six-person space stations called ‘Mars Base Camp’ that could be orbiting Mars by 2028 and would be complete with a lander that could descend to the red surface below.

Musk has made this announcement just before the 68th International Aeronautical Congress in Australia which kicks off later today. Along with a lunar base and further talk of colonisation of Mars, he also stated that the BFR could be used to get to any point on Earth in just under 60 minutes.

With this year’s conference not even underway yet, we’ll have to wait and see what other developments will be announced, but one thing seems clear – humanity is heading towards being an interplanetary species.

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