Under the nearly $3-billion contract, SpaceX will develop a lunar lander that will put the first woman and person of color on the moon. No human has set foot on Earth’s satellite in almost 50 years.
US space agency NASA said on Friday that it had selected SpaceX, entrepreneur Elon Musk’s space transportation company, to develop the first commercial lander, which is set to put the first woman and person of color on the moon.
The US space agency plans to launch four astronauts on its Orion spacecraft, into the orbit of the moon. From thereon, two astronauts will be transferred to SpaceX’s Starship, which will head to the moon.
NASA said that SpaceX’s Starship will include a cabin and two airlocks for moonwalks. The eventual plan is to reuse the launch and landing system for other space travel missions.
“We won’t stop at the moon,” said Steve Jurczyk, the acting administrator of NASA. While NASA did not provide a launch date for the program, Kathy Lueders, the head of the space agency’s human exploration office, indicated that the launch could happen later in the decade. “We’ll do it when it’s safe,” said Lueders.
Musk: ‘NASA rules!’
SpaceX won the nearly $3-billion contract over competitors like Blue Origin, owned by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, and Dynetics, a defense contractor.
Musk, who is also the founder of electric car company Tesla, tweeted “NASA rules!” and “Everything to the moon!” after winning the contract.
The contract for the lunar lander is part of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to return astronauts to the moon by 2024 in preparation for the first human mission to Mars.
SpaceX is currently testing its Starship rocket. In March, the company recorded the fourth failed test of the S11 prototype, which the company hopes will one day be able to fly crewed missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.
Musk edged out Amazon ownerJeff Bezos in securing the $3-billion contract from NASA
SpaceX wants to combine the Starship spaceship with a Super Heavy rocket, creating a fully reusable system.
This final version will stand 394 feet (120 meters) tall and will be able to bring 100 metric tons up and into Earth orbit; it has been described as the most powerful launch vehicle ever developed.
SpaceX has already announced plans to launch the first all-civilian mission into Earth’s orbit later this year.
The flight is to be led by US tech billionaire Jared Isaacman. He will be joined by three other civilians for a journey into space, with one of the passengers to be determined by a raffle.
Originally published at Dw