SpaceX founder Elon Musk has announced that his space exploration plans now include not just Mars but also the moon. Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, Musk revealed the company’s planned next-generation rocket will make it possible to build a moon base — and the name he picked is just his latest homage to beloved science fiction, in this case, the British cult classic Space: 1999.
During his talk on Friday, Musk appeared moved by the concept art of SpaceX’s future rocket landing on the moon to drop off supplies.
“Yeah,” he said, taking a pause. “It’s quite captivating.”
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Musk’s proposed name for the base is Moon Base Alpha, which is a reference to the 1970s British cult classic Space: 1999. Starring the recently deceased Martin Landau as Commander John Koenig, the series imagines a catastrophe on the far-future date of September 13, 1999, in which a nuclear explosion knocks the moon out of Earth’s orbit and sends the crew of Moonbase Alpha into a strange, alien-filled odyssey through the cosmos. It also has, bar none, the grooviest theme music in television history.
The series has its detractors — legendary sci-fi author Isaac Asimov had some less than kind things to say about it in a 1975 review — but Musk has long indicated his fondness for the series. In March of this year, he tweeted a supposed ad for SpaceX’s planned lunar travel that was, in fact, the trailer for “Destination Moonbase-Alpha,” a 1978 compilation movie editing episodes of the show together.
This isn’t the first time Musk has used his IAC talk to drop a reference to a bit of beloved British science fiction. During last year’s talk in Guadalajara, Mexico, he indicated the leading contender for the name of SpaceX’s Mars mission is Heart of Gold, named for a ship in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
SpaceX’s proposed next-generation rocket would be able to make it to the moon in three days and return without having to refuel on the moon. Musk indicated this is what would make it feasible to use the rocket to begin construction of a Moon Base Alpha.
“It’s 2017, we should have a lunar base by now,” he said during the IAC talk. “What the hell is going on?”
Musk didn’t say humanity is at least 18 years late in building Moon Base Alpha, though, really, that goes without saying.