On Friday, April 16, NASA announced that it had chosen SpaceX to send the following American astronauts to the moon: for the first time since 1972. $ 2.9 billion contract for the Starship prototype spacecraft, Which is being tested at the SpaceX site in Texas.
“Today I’m so excited, and we’re all very excited to announce this We’ve awarded SpaceX to develop a lunar landing system“, Announced Lisa Watson Morgan, the person in charge of this program at NASA. So SpaceX preceded Dynetics and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin Company. It also became the sole supplier of the system, while NASA often previously selected several companies In the event that one of them fails.
According to industry analysts, the decision strengthens Elon Musk, which was created in 2002 with the goal of conquering Mars, rather than its privileged partner of NASA in the private sector. last year, SpaceX became the first private company to successfully send a team on board the International Space StationThis gave the Americans the ability to accomplish this feat, for the first time since the end of the space shuttle Shuttle program.
Four robbery attempts and four explosions
SpaceX introduced a reusable spacecraft. The latter is designed for Transport of large crews and large loads For long trips in space and may land upright. Prototypes of the missile are currently being tested in Texas, but so far four flight attempts have all ended in explosions.
As part of the Artemis program, which aims to return men to the moon, NASA wants to use the heavy SLS (Space Launch System) missile. Four astronauts launched on board the Orion capsule. This It will then dock at an orbiting station on the surface of the Moon called Gateway.
The Starship rocket will wait, ready to receive two crew members On the final stage of the journey to the surface of the Moon. The idea is for the Gateway to act as a middleman, but for the initial mission, Orion could dock directly to the Starship, Watson-Morgan said.
Establish a permanent presence on the moon
The astronauts then spend a week on the moon, before boarding the Starship rocket to return to lunar orbit and return to Earth aboard the Orion. In parallel, SpaceX aims to combine their Starship spacecraft with its super heavy rocket, In order to create a machine with a height of 120 meters, the most powerful launch vehicle ever deployed.
In 1972, humans set foot on the moon for the last time with the Apollo program. NASA would like to go back and there Establish a permanent presence with the Lunar Space StationTo test new technologies that would pave the way for a manned mission to Mars.
In 2019, Vice President Mike Pence challenged NASA to land the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024. However, that schedule could be relaxed under the presidency of Joe Biden, whose administration also announced a new goal: Send the first person from an ethnic minority to the moon As part of the Artemis program.