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Elon Musk likes Newt Gingrich’s $2 billion moon base prize

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk really likes former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s idea to award a $2 billion prize to anyone who can build and run a base on the moon.

According to a report by Politico, Gingrich proposed the contest, which would allow private space companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin to compete to see who can establish and run the first lunar base. 

Musk made it clear in a tweet on Monday that he is on board with the proposal, calling it a “great idea.” 

This is a great idea

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 20, 2019

Gingrich said that Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezo’s Blue Origin could return humans to the moon a fraction of the cost of NASA. NASA’s Artemis moon mission program is estimated to cost between $20 billion to $30 billion to make the 2024 deadline that President Donald Trump ambitiously set for the program. 

Last month, Musk told TIME Magazine that he believes the SpaceX team can land its Starship spacecraft on the moon as early as 2021. He added that a crewed mission could happen a year or two after that. 

Musk appears to want to get to the moon as soon as possible, with or without help from NASA.  

“If it were to take longer to convince NASA and the authorities that we can do it versus just doing it, then we might just do it,” he said in a July interview. “It may literally be easier to just land Starship on the moon than try to convince NASA that we can.”

SpaceX’s prototype Starship rocket still has a long way to go, though. A test last month was the first time the test prototype, Starhopper, was able to hover in the air for more than a few seconds and successfully land. The hope is for Starship to eventually be used as a commercial spacecraft that can take off and land multiple times, like an airplane. 

Both SpaceX and Blue Origin have partnered with NASA to advance commercial space and future NASA missions. NASA announced partnerships with 19 companies in July that will further their goal to bring humans back to the moon by 2024. 

Digital Trends reached out to SpaceX and Blue Origin for comment on Gingrich’s proposal, but we have not yet received a response. 

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