Elon Musk says ‘new space race has begun’ as billionaire races to put Dogecoin on the Moon

Elon Musk and Yusaku Maezawa discuss dearMoon project

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The self-appointed Technoking of Tesla and Dogefather, Elon Musk, has whipped up a frenzy among cryptocurrency traders this year. His relentless tweets about Dogecoin (DOGE) and bitcoin (BTC) have led to the meteoric rise of so-called memecoins like DOGE, but have also caught the attention of hacker group Anonymous. Earlier in April this year, Mr Musk said SpaceX would “put a literal Dogecoin on the literal Moon” and he has now been joined by the likes of crypto exchange BitMEX.

BitMEX announced last week it would race to put the flagship token on the Moon – looking to beat the SpaceX chief to the finish line.

The company aims to fly a one-of-a-kind physical bitcoin token as part of a NASA mission pencilled in to reach the lunar surface before the end of the year.

NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center presently lists the launch date as “mid to late 2021” and a website dedicated to the mission has it pegged down for “November of 2021”.

The unusual payload will fly aboard a spacecraft built by Pennsylvania-based commercial enterprise, Astrobotic Technology.

NASA has selected the company to deliver scientific instruments and tech to the Moon’s surface on board the company’s Peregrine lander.

BitMEX said: “BitMEX will mint a one-of-a-kind physical bitcoin, similar to the Casascius coins of 2013, which will be delivered to the Moon by Astrobotic.

“The coin will hold one bitcoin at an address to be publically released, underneath a tamper-evident hologram covering.”

The company also addressed Mr Musk’s plans to put DOGE on the Moon, saying: “One Dogecoin protagonist/EV car innovator/space enthusiast recently laid down the gauntlet in saying he plans to send DOGE to the Moon.

“We’ve nothing against Dog Money, but we felt it was only right to help bitcoin get there first.”

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Mr Musk welcomed the announcement on Twitter.

Responding to a tweet from Bitcoin News, the South African billionaire said: “A new space race has begun!”

The NASA-Astrobotic Technology mission is expected to reach the lunar surface in the fourth quarter of 2021, which means Mr Musk looks set to lose this “space race”.

The SpaceX chief is presently working on the Starship line of rockets, which could one day fly humans to the Moon, Mars and possibly beyond.

One variant of the Starship design has been selected by NASA to land astronauts on the Moon as part of the Artemis programme.

But SpaceX is still a long way away from reaching that goal – although some progress has been made last month.

Starship is still in prototype development and the reusable spacecraft has so far only survived one suborbital test flight.

The spacecraft is yet to reach orbit and the company has not yet tested out the Super Heavy booster that will fly Starship out into space.

A lunar landing is very unlikely to happen before the NASA-Astrobotic Technology mission.

The Pennsylvania-based company was also awarded a £140.7million ($199.5million) contract to deliver NASA’s VIPER mission to the Moon’s South Pole in 2023.

The Peregrine lander will get there first, however, and will carry a mix of private and non-profit payloads.

NASA awarded the company a £56million ($79.5million) contract to land a total of 28 payloads on the Moon this year.

The lunar lander will launch from Earth aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan Centaur rocket.

According to NASA, the launch “is scheduled in late 2021 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.”

The lander will touch down in the Lacus Mortis region of the Moon.

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