Featured Image Source: NASA Astronaut Don Pettit
In humanity's history only 24 astronauts have traveled to the moon, no one has returned since 1972. SpaceX is developing the spacecraft and technology that will enable humans to return to the lunar surface. The aerospace company has developed some of the world’s most advanced rockets and spacecraft, that have demonstrated reliability to transport cargo and astronauts to orbit.
SpaceX’s incredible track record landed it a deal under NASA’s Artemis program to develop a lunar-optimized Starship to transport crew between lunar orbit and the surface of the Moon. “Last year, NASA announced Starship as eligible for the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative – to deliver payloads between Earth and the Moon, and to enable humans to return to the Moon,” SpaceX stated. NASA’s Artemis program targets to launch the first woman and next man to the lunar surface by 2024. The Artemis contract SpaceX earned is valued at $135 million. “The SpaceX human lander design is a single-stage solution with Starship, their fully reusable launch and landing system designed for travel to the Moon, Mars and beyond,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said earlier this year, “The proposal included an in-space propellant transfer demonstration and uncrewed test landing.”
Lunar-optimized Starship / Image Source: SpaceX
SpaceX is actively developing Starship in South Texas at Boca Chica, a small beach village in the city of Brownsville, located along the border with Mexico. NASA astronauts traveled aboard the agency's Northrop T-38 jet, they conducted a fly over of Boca Chica Beach and took aerial photographs. --"This week, I had the chance fly over the SpaceX facility in Boca Chica... where they’re building Starship as part of NASA's effort to return to the moon. Our common objective even made an appearance for a great photo-op in pic #3! To the Moon!" NASA Astronaut Robert Hines shared via Twitter, pictured below. The crew of astronauts that conducted a fly-over are: Don Pettit, Randy Bresnik, and Anne McClain. --"Credit to Pettit for the amazing pics! Thanks to Bresnik, Pettit, and McClain for a great day of flying!" Hines said.
This week, I had the chance fly over the @spacex facility in Boca Chica...where they’re building #Starship as part of @nasa’s effort to return to the moon. Our common objective even made an appearance for a great photo op in pic #3! To the Moon! 🌙 pic.twitter.com/lzOUrGpp8f— Bob “Farmer” Hines (@Astro_FarmerBob) October 8, 2020
Image Source: NASA
The sandy piece of land has been rapidly transformed into a rocket factory, with massive vehicle assembly buildings, giant tent structures, and the on-going constrution of the first orbital-class Starship launchpad. The company envisions transforming Boca Chica beach into a '21st century spaceport and resort' where employees can enjoy living and working towards making life multiplanetary. Multiple stainless-steel Starship prototypes are simultaneously under assembly. Each will undergo testing that will offer engineers insight towards the development of a space-ready launch vehicle. SpaceX will soon conduct a high-altitude test flight of a Starship prototype, it will liftoff 50,000 feet (15-kilometers) and attempt a landing later this month.