Elon Musk: We need to build a base on the moon

Key Points
  • Elon Musk: We need to build a base on the moon if we are going to stoke public interest in space travel
  • Such a base creates other opportunities such as satellite internet, Earth observation
  • Tunneling machines could mine Mars for ice and minerals
Elon Musk: We need a lunar base to help 'fire up' the public about space travel

Elon Musk thinks we need to build a base on the moon if we are going to stoke public interest in space travel.

Speaking at the International Space Station (ISS) Research & Development Conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, the SpaceX founder and leader spoke about the various opportunities space offers for business and innovation. He also lamented that many people seem to be unaware of the International Space Station, or do not seem to fully understand "how cool the ISS is."

Asked what opportunities space affords, Musk cited several things, but said, "If you want to get the public fired up, you've got to put a base on the moon," adding that it would be the "continuance to the dream" of the Apollo missions.

Musk also said that using satellites to provide low-cost internet to rural customers, and doing Earth observation for crops, climate, and natural disasters, are just two examples of the potential business opportunities created from such a venture.

Elon Musk's Mars manifesto

Musk is known for saying he started SpaceX to turn humanity into a multi-planetary species, most notably by planning to send humans to Mars sometime in the near future. SpaceX has said it plans to put a robotic lander on Mars as soon as 2020.

He also discussed his plan to dig tunnels beneath Los Angeles, through the venture he named "The Boring Company." Musk said that project is a "low stress activity" because "everyone expects it to fail."

But he did say the project's intellectual property might be able to inform the design of digging machines that can mine Mars for ice and minerals.

Musk has said that any plan to colonize Mars would have to make as much use of Martian materials for building and general survival as possible.

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