Elon Musk holds the key to the Moon as SpaceX’s Starship megarocket launch is key to NASA’s comeback SpaceX plans to launch its flagship megarocket Starship for the first time in April.
The rocket, which NASA has tagged for upcoming missions, is crucial to NASA’s return to the Moon. NASA is getting closer to returning to the moon after 50 years and SpaceX is playing a key role in the mission.
Elon Musk said SpaceX is targeting April for the first launch of its massive Starship megarocket system, the world’s most powerful rocket designed to carry cargo and crew to the Moon, Mars and beyond . It consists of a spacecraft and a booster, called the “Super Heavy”, which SpaceX has successfully tested.
The highly anticipated Starship launch will determine whether NASA’s Artemis Moon program is on its way to success. In 2021, NASA awarded SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to use Starship to help land the first humans on the Moon since 1972. Starship also signed a contract last November to be part of the Artemis IV mission.
According to Brendan Rossio, a teaching fellow in space economics at Harvard Business School, this will not only be a test of the company’s flagship vehicle, but also a significant test of NASA’s gamble to include commercial actors at the center of their development process. He told Insider in an interview that the Starship plan and all these other different components are woven into Artemis.
The crew will launch into lunar orbit aboard NASA’s Orion spacecraft, which sits on top of its new Space Launch System, or SLS, while a Starship, which will launch separately, will act as the mission’s lunar lander.
Once the mission is complete, Starship will bring the crew back to Earth aboard Orion before leaving Starship in orbit around the Moon, Space.com reported.
That means NASA plans a SpaceX-built rocket, the first rocket the agency has designed since 1972 to boot to the Moon.
“If you’re NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, you’re looking really closely at the test launches of Starship because Starship is now an important part of your infrastructure,” Rossow said.
NBC reported that NASA’s reliance on Starship became clear when Nelson asked SpaceX President Gwen Shotwell whether Musk’s Twitter acquisition would affect the company’s mission with the agency. Shotwell assures her that she has “nothing to worry about.”
NASA’s support of SpaceX doesn’t stop at Artemis III. The agency has tagged SpaceX to design the lander for Artemis IV, increasing NASA’s investment to design the system to dock the rocket at NASA’s planned lunar gateway to $1.2 billion.
“I think it shows the confidence that NASA has in SpaceX’s ability to get Starship up and running. Obviously, that’s quite remarkable, given that we also have a full orbital flight test of the system.” No,” Rosseau said. They said.
Rosso said SpaceX’s success was part of NASA’s grand design to bring commercial actors to the heart of its upcoming missions. After the shuttle program ended in 2011, NASA changed its approach to its development program.
Rosso said that instead of investing in a rocket to launch all of its energy engineering, the agency began investing more in private companies that could shoulder the burden of development while competing for lower prices and higher efficiency.
The strategy was risky, he said, but it has now paid off “extremely well”. He stated that “It spawned companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin and all these other companies. This investment from NASA and having NASA as a customer is the only reason they exist today.”
SpaceX isn’t the only beneficiary of this strategy. NASA has tasked 14 private companies with carrying various types of payloads to the Moon in the coming years. Three of these companies are going to deliver payloads this year.
Musk promises Starship will be cheaper and better than SLS
Elon Musk holds the key to the Moon as SpaceX’s Starship megarocket launch is key to NASA’s return.
There is no good estimate for the cost of Starship, but Musk has previously said that within a few years, each launch could cost less than $10 million. SpaceX aims to make Starship fully reusable, meaning it could potentially launch multiple times a year.