The US space agency NASA has chosen SpaceX, Elon Musk’s space company, for its next manned mission to the moon. SpaceX and NASA signed a $2.89 billion contract for this, reports the American news channel CNN.
‘Today, we are all thrilled to announce that we have awarded SpaceX the construction of our lunar landing system,’ said NASA Project Manager Lisa Watson-Morgan.
The American space agency awards the contract exclusively to SpaceX. The company thus beats Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ toy. The Amazon founder wanted to win the contract together with aerospace and defense companies Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper.
Musk, who is also CEO of car manufacturer Tesla, founded SpaceX with the ultimate goal of getting humans to fly to the planet Mars. In recent years, the company caused a sensation by setting up plenty of test missions for rockets and spacecraft. This quickly increased enthusiasm for space travel.
NASA last sent astronauts to the moon in 1972. That year, the American Apollo space travel program ended. For successor Artemis, all hope now rests on the shoulders of the Starship. This SpaceX rocket can be used again after launch and could bring large groups of people to the moon, Mars and eventually other planets.
Until now, unmanned test flights with the Starship have not been successful. On landing attempts, the spacecraft ended up in a large fireball. Recently, the US aviation authority FAA announced an investigation into safety.
Starship will not be the vehicle with which astronauts depart from Earth. The capsule ‘Orion’ will be used for that. Astronauts must enter orbit with Orion, where two astronauts transfer to Starship. This rocket then lands on the surface of the celestial body, and after a stay of about a week, the space travelers get back on board to return to orbit the moon. They then go back to their partner in Orion and then travel back to Earth.