A newly announced SpaceX flight to the moon is quite literally a joke -- or at least it started that way.
Elon Musk's rocket company plans to launch the DOGE-1 Mission to the Moon next year and the entire voyage is being paid for using the cryptocurrency Dogecoin, which began as a prank in 2013.
Dogecoin is essentially a Bitcoin clone merged with the old "doge" meme featuring fluffy shiba inu dogs. In its early days, there was a Dogecoin-sponsored NASCAR racer and, less than a decade later we will apparently send a Dogecoin spacecraft to the moon.
The mission will be funded by Geometric Energy, which announced the mission Sunday but didn't reveal the projected cost.
"We're excited to launch DOGE-1 to the moon," SpaceX Vice President of Commercial Sales Tom Ochinero said in a statement released by Geometric Energy. "This mission will demonstrate the application of cryptocurrency beyond Earth orbit and set the foundation for interplanetary commerce."
Details of the mission are currently quite vague. A Falcon 9 rocket will launch an 88-pound (40 kilogram) cubesat some time early next year.
"The payload will obtain lunar-spatial intelligence from sensors and cameras on-board with integrated communications and computational systems," the statement reads.
What this means specifically isn't clear, although it sounds as though some sort of surveying of the lunar surface is the plan. Geometric Energy didn't immediately respond to a request for clarification.
For what it's worth, on April Fool's Day, Musk tweeted "SpaceX is going to put a literal Dogecoin on the literal moon."
In recent years -- and with increasing frequency in 2021 -- Musk has tweeted about Dogecoin, becoming its highest-profile supporter. The support of the self-proclaimed "Dogefather" has helped to drive an increased price for the cryptocurrency. Initially designed to parody cryptocurrencies, it was trading around one cent in January but was up to over 70 cents last week, before Musk's appearance on Saturday Night Live. During the last hour of the show, the cryptocurrency's price dropped from around 66 cents to just below 50 cents. It later made a mild recovery back to around 55 cents.
SpaceX didn't immediately respond to a request for further comment.