NASA chooses SpaceX’s Starship to send its future astronauts to the moon

Ultimately, NASA prefers the SpaceX project. The space agency announced on April 16, 2021, that it had selected Starship to land the next batch of astronauts for the Artemis program on lunar soil.

By 2024, the U.S. hopes to return crew members to lunar soil. The space agency just announced on April 16, 2021, that it has selected SpaceX to continue developing the lander that will be responsible for transporting astronauts to the lunar surface.

NASA has chosen Starship to land the first astronauts on the lunar surface since the Apollo program!We are proud to help @NASAArtemis Create a new era of human space exploration », tweet SpaceX the same day. The announcement may come as a surprise, as we know NASA is also developing its Space Launch System (SLS), the precise launcher that’s supposed to send astronauts to the moon. What will happen to the SLS in the Artemis program?

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SLS and Starship will play different roles

In its press release, NASA recalled that the two ships actually had to play different roles in the Artemis program. SLS is planned to send astronauts (four) aboard the Orion spacecraft for a several-day trip to lunar orbit. At that point, the SpaceX rocket must intervene: ” There, the two crew members will be transferred to SpaceX’s Human Landing System (HLS) the last stop on their moon landing “NASA wrote. So the SpaceX spacecraft will intervene with the lunar system: land, and then let the astronauts leave the star’s surface.

The Artemis program calls for the development of several devices: the SLS launcher, the lunar space station as a relay station between lunar orbit and the lunar surface (SpaceX must also be involved in its installation), the Orion and space station to transfer astronauts between Earth, and the HLS spacecraft, The spacecraft must place humans on the lunar surface and bring them back to the space station. This NASA video details the different roles of these facilities, stepping through the process of returning humans to the moon.

To meet such a tight deadline, NASA turned to the private sector to develop the lunar module. Three candidates entered the race: Blue Origin, Dynetics and SpaceX, each with a different vision for how to go to the moon. The final choice was the SpaceX version. The company thus won a $2.9 billion (2.4 billion euro) Starship prototype contract. It must be said that SpaceX has a lot of experience with its Dragon and Falcon vehicles. The company has also been responsible for transporting astronauts to the International Space Station in Crew Dragon capsules since 2020.

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Source: NASA

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