August 2, 1955: The Soviet Union declared their intention to match the United States’ plans to launch artificial satellites. This began a Space Race between the two superpowers of the Cold War era of the 20th century, which popularly is said to have ended when Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon on July 20, 1969. The world could not have fully realized it fourteen years earlier, but the original announcements had already set history in motion.
Now, a new Space Race has begun — not between bitterly-opposed nation-states, but between the factions behind two leading cryptocurrencies. BitMEX has pledged to match Elon Musk’s proposition to fly Dogecoin to the Moon with a plan of their own: in collaboration with space robotics company Astrobotic Technology, the cryptocurrency exchange will be minting a one-of-a-kind physical Bitcoin to place on the lunar surface.
Crypto enthusiasts have long understand “going to the Moon” to mean prices hitting new all-time highs and breaking into new territory. DOGE to $1 and BTC to $100,000 are common price points that one might hear. But in an April Fools’ tweet that turned out to be dead serious, Elon Musk took things further by announcing that “SpaceX is going to put a literal Dogecoin on the literal moon”. The rocket manufacturing and space transportation company has tentatively slated the mission for the first quarter of 2022.
According to their blog post, BitMEX’s plans for Bitcoin will be part of a wider mission featuring “a coalition of government, academia, industry and international partners” working to “deliver science, exploration and technology demonstration payloads to the lunar surface”. Astrobotic’s commercial lander will be going to the Moon in the last quarter of this year, which would come ahead of SpaceX’s timeline by a few months.
This news comes at a time when the wider crypto market has experienced a slump that has many uncertain about Bitcoin and Dogecoin in the short term. Elon Musk especially has been the target of much anger and criticism after his public comments on Bitcoin’s energy consumption and Tesla’s reversal of their decision to accept payments in BTC have resulted in precipitous price drops. His support of Dogecoin, dismissed by some as a “meme” cryptocurrency, comes along with plans to work with developers on improving the cryptocurrency to compete with its older and more established counterpart.
Though this crypto Space Race can all be seen as one big stunt to grab international headlines and have some expensive fun, the cryptocurrency community is undoubtedly excited to see the day when memes stop being dreams. When spirits are down and the going is tough, everyone can weather out the storm by having a laugh and waiting for more eyes to fall on cryptocurrencies.
Which side will you support: digital gold, or dog money? And which will come first: BTC / DOGE to the literal Moon, or BTC / DOGE to the figurative Moon? As for me, I’ll be celebrating this precious day in crypto history by listening to Claire Littley’s version of “Fly Me to the Moon” on loop.