Elon Musk says SpaceX’s moon lander will probably be ready before 2024, as NASA pays $300 million toward Artemis contract

SpaceX's Texas

SpaceX founder Elon Musk on Saturday said he expects to have the Starship human lander ready for a moon mission before 2024.

“Probably sooner,” Musk said on Twitter when asked about the company’s design timeline.



NASA has said 2024 was the “most ambitious date possible” for a return to the moon.

Musk’s estimate marked the latest in a series of upbeat predictions from the billionaire, who has often said he’ll use his fortune to make life “multiplanetary.”

Last week, when it was revealed that NASA was behind schedule on spacesuit development, and that they might not be ready until 2025, Musk said: “SpaceX could do it if need be.”

SpaceX in April won a $2.89 billion NASA contract to design and build a lunar lander. The company’s proposal won over two rival bidders, including a team led by Blue Origin, a private space company founded by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

Blue Origin protested, and the contract was suspended pending a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

On July 30, the GAO denied Blue Origin’s protest. The same day, Musk’s SpaceX was handed another $300 million to move its project along, according to records first reported by CNBC’s Michael Sheetzon Twitter on Saturday. The tweet by Sheetz started a thread that led to Musk’s prediction that SpaceX’s lander would be ready before 2024.



NASA on July 30 said the GAO’s decision allowed SpaceX and the agency to nail down a timeline for the first crewed mission to the moon in more than 50 years. NASA has said it hopes to test crewed Artemis flights by 2023, with an initial moon landing in 2024.

In its Artemis overview, the agency said “2024 is not an arbitrary date. It is the most ambitious date possible, and our success at the Moon, and later, at Mars, will be grounded in our national goals and robust capabilities.”

That would be followed by “sustainable lunar exploration in the mid to late 2020s,” the agency said.

The founders of Blue Origin and SpaceX have traded barbs over designs and contracts. Musk last week mocked a photo of a prototype of Blue Moon, the rival company’s moon lander.

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