NASA said Friday that NASA has chosen SpaceX to send incoming American astronauts to the moon, for the first time since 1972, giving Elon Musk a huge victory.
$ 2.9 billion contract for a spacecraft prototype Starship, Which is being tested at the SpaceX site in Texas.
“Today I’m very excited, and we’re all very excited to announce that we have been awarded a SpaceX award for developing a lunar landing system,” said Lisa Watson Morgan, NASA Program Director.
SpaceX overtook Dynetics and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin to become the only supplier of the system, which is a break with the past given that NASA often selects multiple companies if one 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 aboard the International Space Station, giving Americans the ability to accomplish this feat, for the first time since the end of the space shuttle program. Transportation service.
SpaceX introduced its reusable spacecraft Starship, Designed to carry large crews and payloads for long trips in space, which can land upright.
Prototypes of the missile are currently being tested in Texas, but all four flying attempts have so far ended in explosions.
In a program Artemis, Which aims to bring men back to the moon, NASA wants to use the heavy SLS (Space Launch System) rocket to launch four astronauts aboard a capsule. Orion, Which will then dock at a lunar orbital station called Gate.
The missile Starship It will be on hold, ready to receive two crew members for the final leg of the flight to the surface of the Moon.
The idea is that the terminal Gate Acting as a moderator, but for the primary assignment, Orion It can dock directly to StarshipLisa Watson Morgan said.
The astronauts then spend a week on the moon, before boarding the rocket Starship To return to lunar orbit and back to Earth on boardOrion.
At the same time, SpaceX aims to bring together its own spaceship Starship With his missile so heavy, To create a 120-meter machine, the most powerful launch vehicle ever deployed.
The man last reached the moon in 1972 with the program Apollo.
NASA wants to return there and establish a permanent presence with a space station on the surface of the Moon, to test new technologies that will 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, but that schedule will likely be relaxed under Joe Biden’s presidency.
The Democratic President’s administration also announced a new goal: to send the first person from an ethnic minority to the Moon as part of the program. Artemis.