SpaceX is a leader in aerospace innovation. The company returned human spaceflight capabilities to the United States in 2020, after NASA retired its Space Shuttle fleet nearly a decade ago. SpaceX launched its third crewed flight to the International Space Station on Friday morning as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program which aims to launch frequent crewed space flights from American soil. It is SpaceX’s second operational mission under the program, Crew-2, which launched four astronauts representing NASA, European Space Agency, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Read more about the Crew-2 launch in the previous TESMANIAN article: SpaceX Launches Crew-2 Astronauts On A 24-Hour Voyage To The Space Station Atop A Previously-Flown Crew Dragon
After successfully launching Crew-2 astronauts to orbit, SpaceX founder Elon Musk participated in a press conference with NASA officials in which he mentioned that he believes SpaceX can accomplish landing NASA astronauts on the Moon by 2024. –“I think that can be done,” he said. “We're going to aim for sooner than that but I think this is actually doable.” Last week, the agency awarded SpaceX a $2.9 billion dollar contact to develop a Starship Lunar Lander under the agency's Artemis Human Landing Systems program. “…It's a great honor to be chosen by NASA to return people to the moon,” Musk said. Winning the contract is "really helpful" because Starship development has "mostly been funded internally thus far and it's pretty expensive," he said. “It's been now almost half a century since humans were last on the moon. That's too long, we need to get back there and have a permanent base on the moon […] like a big permanently occupied base on the moon.” Musk said last year that there was “no need to bring early [Star]ships back. They can serve as part of Moon Base Alpha.”
NASA has selected Starship to land the first astronauts on the lunar surface since the Apollo program! We are humbled to help @NASAArtemis usher in a new era of human space exploration → https://t.co/Qcuop33Ryz pic.twitter.com/GN9Tcfqlfp— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 16, 2021
He also discussed about the importance for humans to “build a city on Mars to become a spacefaring civilization, a multiplanet species,” he said with excitement. “We don't want to be one of those single-planet species, we want to be a multiplanet species.” SpaceX is developing the Starship launch vehicle at Boca Chica Beach, a small village in South Texas, where engineers have tested multiple stainless-steel prototypes of the spacecraft. “We're building up a lot of rockets, and probably [will] smash a bunch of them, but I think it will happen,” Musk said. ″[...] As you can tell, if you’ve been watching videos, we’ve blown up a few of them,” he added, In reference to the previous four test prototypes that performed a high-altitude flight test and ended with an explosion upon landing. Each flight test has provided engineers with valuable insight towards Starship’s development. The company is now preparing to launch the next prototype, Starship SN15, which features improvements that will be tested during a high-altitude flight. SpaceX has not launched a Starship to space yet, the first-ever orbital flight test could take place over the summer.
Featured Image Source: SpaceX
About the Author
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.