Since the dawn of time, the Moon has been a muse for billions of humans under its presence. Its brilliance has inspired countless poems and love songs. Many tales have been written about Gods coming down from the starry sky to visit the mortals. Now, imagine a future where you look up at the Moon and know that you could plan a Summer vacation to visit that beautiful celestial body that gifts us light at night.
SpaceX is working to make this exciting future a reality. SpaceX founder Elon Musk says the company will work to manufacture a fleet of hundreds of reusable Starships that will reduce the cost of spaceflight enough so that anyone can save money to travel to space someday. In 2019, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said that long-term reusability could enable a Starship seat to cost 'a little more than an economy-class flight, but cheaper than a first-class airplane ticket'.
Starship will enable humanity to build a permanent base on the Moon. It has been 50 years since NASA’s Apollo 17 mission, which was the final time humans ever set foot on the lunar surface. NASA has not launched more astronaut missions to the Moon because it is too expensive to build all the complex infrastructure. SpaceX is developing innovative reusable technology that significantly reduces the cost of spaceflight. The company is working to return NASA astronauts to our closest celestial neighbor by 2025 as part of the Artemis program – and this time humanity is returning to stay. The International Space Station (ISS) will be retired sometime in 2030 and NASA will focus on building a sustainable lunar presence. This endeavor will be a reality with the help of the commercial aerospace industry.
Last year, the SpaceX Director of Civil Space Development Nick Cummings talked about the company’s plans to build a permanent Moon base. “The thing I'm most excited about” with NASA's Artemis “is all of the surface elements,” since “Starship is fundamentally designed to transport very, very large amounts of cargo,” they said. SpaceX is “excited to integrate things like habitats and rovers and supplies” with Starship to make a “rich ecosystem of technologies” for an “incredible Moon base,” he said at the February 2022 Federal Aviation Administration’s Commercial Space Transportation conference. Cummings said that the lunar base could be “staffed by hundreds or thousands of scientists and explorers” that would be launched by Starship.
SpaceX’s ‘Moon Base Alpha’ will be a stepping stone to ultimately build the first colony on Mars. Starship is still undergoing development at the Starbase facility in South Texas; It is destined to become the world’s most powerful rocket-ship. Starship will enable more affordable space travel because it will be fully-reusable and capable of propelling around 100 tons to orbit on a single mission. Each spacecraft will be able to transport 100 passengers to the Moon.
The company is developing a lunar-optimized Starship Human Landing System (HLS) for NASA’s Artemis program. These HLS ships have a different design compared to the original Starship. “A lunar-optimized Starship can fly many times between the surface of the Moon and lunar orbit without flaps or heat shielding required for Earth return,” says SpaceX. Unlike Starships that will be used for Earth and Mars voyages that will feature a heat shield and flaps designed for aerodynamic flight. The Starships that will land on the Moon will be used to build a lunar base. “No need to bring early ships back. They can serve as part of Moon Base Alpha,” Musk said in 2020. The ships could be used as laboratories where astronauts can conduct research and have sleeping quarters, an art depiction of the Starship HLS is pictured below. This week, SpaceX is performing critical pre-flight tests of the launch vehicle to pave the way for the first orbital flight test this year.
Today’s test will help verify a full launch countdown sequence, as well as the performance of Starship and the orbital pad for flight-like operations— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 24, 2023
Launch and catch tower destacked Ship 24 from Booster 7 on the orbital pad today ahead of the Booster’s static fire test pic.twitter.com/JPcKh7fcvp— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 26, 2023
Source: SpaceX / Tesmanian.com
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Featured Image Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.