Elon Musk: Newt Gingrich's $2 billion moon prize is a 'great idea' – CNET

SpaceX's illustration envisions its spacecraft passing the moon.

SpaceX

Big money can spur big innovations. Imagine the US government ponying up $2 billion for a private company to put a lunar base on the moon. SpaceX founder Elon Musk is down with that. 

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is pushing the idea of a sweepstakes to encourage companies like SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin to handle the heavy lifting of returning humans to the moon for much less than it would cost NASA to do so, Politico reported Monday. Gingrich is apparently trying to convince President Donald Trump to back the move.

Musk is on board.

"This is a great idea," Musk tweeted

Gingrich responded to Musk on Tuesday by tweeting, "Very cool. Thanks, Elon Musk!"

NASA is up against an extremely challenging 2024 Trump-imposed deadline for its Artemis mission to take the next man and first woman to the moon. The mission is expected to cost $20 billion to $30 billion and has already been hit with delays involving the Space Launch System rocket development.

SpaceX, however, is moving forward at a breakneck pace in building its next-gen Starship spacecraft, which is meant to handle missions to Earth orbit, the moon and eventually Mars. The company is assembling two different orbital prototypes.

If Gingrich's idea comes to fruition, it wouldn't be the first time that prize money has been dangled for a moon landing. The $30 million Google Lunar XPrize for an uncrewed moon-landing mission ultimately went unclaimed by 2018. It still had the effect of pushing innovation. Former XPrize team SpaceIL very nearly landed a spacecraft on the moon in early 2019. (It crashed instead.)

SpaceX and Blue Origin already have their eyes set on moon missions and have signed on with NASA to investigate moon lander prototypes. A $2 billion government carrot wouldn't hurt.

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