NASA has chosen SpaceX Starship for the second landing of a crew on the moon under the “Artemis” program – it is expected no earlier than 2027

NASA has chosen SpaceX Starship for the second landing of a crew on the moon under the

NASA is increasingly relying on Elon Musk’s private space company SpaceX in the implementation of the ambitious lunar program “Artemis” – the other day, the American space agency announced that it had chosen the future Starship spacecraft (more precisely, its special version, modified for flight and landing on the moon). Moon. We are talking about the Artemis-4/Artemis-4 mission.

NASA and SpaceX collaboration with Artemis

Although SLS eventually overtook Starship, on November 16, NASA’s long-suffering launch vehicle (the first launch, originally scheduled for 2016, was pushed back more than 20 times, and the total cost of the rocket rose from $6 billion to $23.8 billion) took off for the first time in space in within the scope of the Artemis-1 mission, sending the Orion ship on an unmanned flyby of the Moon (if everything goes according to plan, it will return to Earth on December 11) — it is Starship, as is known, within the scope of the future Artemis-3 mission (it will take place no earlier May 2024) should return Americans to the moon (and no Jeff Bezos will stop it). If you are interested, we talked about SLS in more detail, which took away from Falcon Heavy the title of the largest and most powerful launch vehicle among those currently in use, and the main milestones of the Artemis program were mentioned here.

NASA is increasingly relying on Starship

Previously, NASA commissioned SpaceX to deliver the first crew since Apollo to the Moon as part of the already mentioned Artemis 3 mission NASA has chosen SpaceX Starship for the second landing of a crew on the moon under the NASA has chosen SpaceX Starship for the second landing of a crew on the moon under the Artemis 3 is the upcoming first moon landing since Apollo and the first expedition with a female astronaut. Four astronauts are to go to the moon on the Orion spacecraft, two of which will transfer to the Starship and land in the region of the south pole of the moon to carry out a scientific program designed for six more than Earth days. After completing the tasks, they will return to Orion and go to Earth, and now SpaceX has received a second contract – the second crew to the Moon will also be lucky Starship. It can also be mentioned that the first two modules of the future Gateway near-lunar station should also be delivered by SpaceX on a Falcon Heavy rocket, not SLS, as originally. And alternatives to Starship for lunar missions are not yet visible, despite the fact that earlier NASA announced a competition for the development of a second lander to land astronauts on the moon. And they will not be superfluous, because NASA has a lot of plans with “Artemis”: returning to the moon is only the beginning. Further, there are plans to colonize a satellite, extract useful resources and use the Moon as a platform for the colonization of Mars.

The amount of the initial contract of SpaceX with NASA within the scope of “Artemis” is $2.9 billion. For the delivery of the crew within the scope of Artemis-4, Elon Musk’s company will additionally receive another 1.15 billion. For comparison, the cost of launching the SLS is $2.2 billion, and only the Artemis-1 mission — $4.1 billion. There has been no official postponement of Artemis-3 yet, but NASA Auditor General Paul Martin admitted in August that the Artemis 3 mission would most likely take place no earlier than 2026, and Artemis 4 — no earlier than 2027. The reasons are the same — technological problems and lack of funding. Both the development of the xEMU spacesuits (they will be ready no earlier than April 2025) and the development of the HLS lunar landing modules (read: Starship) are behind schedule.

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A few words about Starship

On November 15, SpaceX conducted fire tests of the first stage of the Starship rocket with 14 engines (until now such tests were carried out with a maximum of seven engines). 14 Raptor 2 engines on the Heavy Booster 7 prototype produced a thrust of 3220 ts – this is more than the starting thrust of the Falcon Heavy, which is 2326 ts. Theoretically, the Super Heavy in the full configuration with 33 engines will be able to produce a thrust of up to 7590 ts. This is more than double the capabilities of the current record holder, the famous NASA Saturn V rocket.

CEO Elon Musk said after the tests that after one or two more tests, the rocket will be ready for the first orbital flight — there is a good chance that it will take place by the end of 2022. More details – in a separate material at the link below.

In December, SpaceX is likely to finally send Starship on its first orbital flight

  • After commissioning, the Super Heavy + Starship system, designed to launch cargo and people into Earth orbit, the Moon and Mars, will be the most powerful in the history of space exploration. The rocket will be able to deliver a cargo weighing up to 150 tons in a fully reusable configuration to low Earth orbit — with the return of both parts (Super Heavy and Starship) to Earth, as well as the possibility of docking and refueling in orbit.

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