Since the beginning of man’s journey into space, only twenty-four men have been to the Moon. The last trip was back in 1972. California-based space exploration company SpaceX hopes to change that with the launch of “Starship,” a program that aims to send the first set of astronauts on the next lunar mission since the Apollo program.
The news comes after NASA announced that they had selected SpaceX to lead the charge on the next mission to the moon. “Together, NASA and SpaceX have successfully executed similarly bold and innovative partnerships, including restoring America’s ability to launch astronauts to orbit and return them safely home,” announced SpaceX on the company website. “We will build upon our shared accomplishments and leverage years of close technical collaboration to return to the Moon.”
With the launch of this project, SpaceX has a goal to do more than send people to outer space. The project is another step that the company is taking to create a sustained human presence on Mars and make colonies live there. With this project, the company is “shooting for Mars” by “landing on the moon,” so to speak. In doing so, the program aims to lay more groundwork into human exploration to send humans to Mars and beyond in the near future.
At the center of the program is SpaceX’s spacecraft “Starship,” a top-of-the-line vessel that will be paired with a Super Heavy rocket. The hallmark of the company’s space crafts is that they are reusable after launch, a feat the company proved was possible not long ago. The discovery has revolutionized how the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has approached space travel and allowed for a more economical way to run missions.
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation or SpaceX is an aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services founded by Elon Musk. The company exists to help public offices find more cost-effective ways to run space transportation and enable the colonization of Mars. While something that seems to be made for science fiction tales, the rocket-manufacturing behemoth has done more than enough to solidify the case that their lofty goals are not just possible. They’re also attainable in a lifetime or two.
SpaceX has developed ten Starship prototypes since January 2020 and is extremely close to creating a model that will provide the correct standards for a trip to the moon. It has also made and tested more than sixty Raptor engines for the projects, accumulating over 30,000 seconds worth of test time and 567 engine starts. The Starship will fly between lunar orbit and the moon’s surface and carry all crew, supplies, equipment, and payloads required for extensive surface exploration.
The contract with NASA will include a price tag of $2.9 Billion that the government agency will pay to SpaceX over the next few years. The funds will go to the development of the Starship rocket and pay for two trips—one unmanned trip as a test run and the finale, including the human pilots. The penned partnership is part of NASA’s Artemis program, which they hope to complete by 2024.
To learn more about SpaceX, visit the company’s website.