NASA’s delegation to the Artemis program conducts first inspection of SpaceX’s structure

SpaceX was finally able to host the first NASA delegation to the Artemis program, the NASA project that will bring humans back to the moon in 2025. round For structures still being assembled – earlier this week.

The incident shows that after two unsuccessful attempts at legal action by Jeff Bezos’ rival Blue Origin, the first applications for the program can finally begin to be processed by Elon Musk’s company, which won received a $1 billion bid to partner with NASA on a mission. April 2021.

The tender documents stipulate the construction of human landing system (HLS), SLS Rocket Crew Transport Platform (space launch system) and its Orion capsule, which, for a short period of time, was designed to get astronauts out of the spacecraft and onto the lunar surface.

The focus of this visit is interstellar base, including the launch pad for the Starship orbiting spacecraft and the structure of the transport vehicle factory. The idea is to measure the progress of the subcontracting company in the development of the structure – which cannot be ignored from a technical point of view.

That’s because in January of this year, the designated satellite base area didn’t even have asphalt, just a launch support tower – which, by the way, was built before and used for other purposes. Before the end of the year, the same area houses three semi-autonomous robotic arms, a tower the size of a skyscraper, and is about to complete the construction of the largest cryogenic rocket tank in history.

Of course, that’s not “fair” to NASA and Artemis: the same structure has seen the development of various Starship prototypes (SpaceX is at number 21, if you count…) and its super-heavy rockets. The graph below is a good illustration of how the months have progressed:

Apparently, as the saying goes, “there’s still a lot of room” before SpaceX can call the structure “finished”: the two robotic arms used to “catch up” with the Starship and Super Heavy are still in the assembly stage, the fuel storage area There are hundreds of trucks now, but the goal is to assemble a giant tank of liquid methane (LCH4). Then there are endurance tests, temperature tests… SpaceX is still busy for the time being.

It’s worth noting, however, the rapidity of these developments: After a cryogenic test — SpaceX even conducted one a few months ago — a static ignition test (fired with a stuck rocket, not taking off) can almost be performed Instantly. Flight preparations will be significantly shortened and allow companies to respond to requests more quickly.

From there, the company should begin designing the first prototype of the HLS and have the star-based structure ready. If this pace continues, we will likely have some announcements sooner than expected.

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