Following Saturday's successful launch, SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk spoke about the future of the private spaceflight company beyond the International Space Station.
Elon Musk Talks Moon Base
During an early morning post-launch press conference at Kennedy Space Center on March 2, Musk briefly touched on the subject of establishing a moon base.
"We should have a base on the moon, like a permanently occupied human base on the moon, and then send people to Mars. That's what we should do," he told reporters. "Maybe there's something beyond the space station, but we'll see."
The statement echoes an interview that Musk gave in February where he suggested that the Starship, the company's massive new rocket currently being built in a SpaceX facility in Texas, could be involved in NASA's plans to send humans back to the surface of the moon by the late 2020s.
Will NASA Partner With SpaceX On Lunar Base?
In his own statement, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine noted that Musk's lunar ambition is in line with their own. He hinted that the space agency is open to partnering with SpaceX in a future lunar mission.
"There's no doubt SpaceX has some really amazing ideas about what they could help us do at the moon, and what they could help the coalition of international partners as we develop this together," he said on Saturday.
Last month, Bridenstine called on commercial space companies to submit ideas for lunar landers, transfer vehicles, and refueling system that would enable the aforementioned vehicles for reuse. They were given until the end of March to submit their ideas to NASA. The space agency is expected to make a decision by May.
The space agency's recent efforts to once again send astronauts to the surface of the moon is a response to the Space Policy Directive 1 signed by U.S. President Donald J. Trump in December 2018. The order directs NASA to return to the moon sustainably and not, in Bridenstine own words, "leave flags and footprints and then not go back for another 50 years."
Part of the space agency's roadmap to the moon is the construction of a Gateway. Canada recently pledged a contribution of $1.4 billion to the planned space station and act as a base to astronauts before they descend to the surface of the moon.