The SpaceX Moon mission launch could happen sooner than expected as Elon Musk’s space company is said to be the frontrunner of NASA’s planned Moon exploration.

According to CNBC, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a Senate committee that they are considering the use of commercial rockets for a lunar crew test flight instead of the agency’s SLS spacecraft. The mission is tentatively scheduled for June 2020 and if all goes to plan, SpaceX could potentially win the contract.

"I think we should launch around the moon in June of 2020, and I think it can be done. We need to consider as an agency all options to accomplish that objective. Some of those options would include launching the Orion crew capsule and the European service module on a commercial rocket," Bridenstine said.

The NASA administrator mentioned that the space agency could consider using two heavy-lift rockets and hinted of the "amazing capability that exists right now" in the U.S. space industry. Bridenstine’s statement could mean two very possible contenders of the mission: United Launch Alliance (ULA) and SpaceX, which are currently the most active private space firms today. Both companies are part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Between the two, however, SpaceX seems to be the most likely choice. SpaceX is fresh from the success of its Crew Dragon capsule demo launch to the International Space Station (ISS) and the spacecraft’s recent return back to Earth without any problems.

SpaceX lead designer Musk’s vision of offering a more cost-effective option for space missions might also bode well for NASA. Currently, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket is priced at $150 million per launch. This is a big difference compared to Boeing and Lockheed Martin’s ULA Delta IV Heavy rocket, which costs roughly $350 million per launch.

There is also the question on whether or not ULA could be ready to do a Moon mission to align with NASA’s 2020 timeline as the company needs at least two to three years to prepare for a launch. In comparison, SpaceX is capable of high volume launches.

"If speed is of the utmost importance, then they may be willing to pay more than SpaceX's stated price. SpaceX is clearly the front-runner given this time frame," Chad Anderson, CEO of investment firm Space Angels, said.