Elon Musk wants to get to Mars as soon as possible. One of his first employees at SpaceX, Tom Mueller, is focused on another destination: the moon.
Mueller—who founded his own startup, Impulse Space, in 2021 after retiring from SpaceX—recently announced that Impulse’s first ever vehicle, the Mira, will head into outer space this October by hitching a ride on one of SpaceX’s Falcon rockets. Mueller knows the Falcon well: In his 20 years at SpaceX, he developed the Merlin engine that still hurls SpaceX rockets into the sky. Now Mueller heads one of a budding group of startups hoping to follow in the footsteps of SpaceX, whose pioneering reusable rockets have made it more affordable to get into space.