Elon Musk is taking over outer space 143 satellites at a time, and now, he’s making history.
As the richest man in the world, and a well-documented lover of tech toys, it’s no surprise Elon Musk is making his own rules when it comes to the possibility of outer space. His latest endeavour, teaming up with NASA to develop the first commercial human lander and land the first woman on the moon, is actually pretty incredible.
His company SpaceX – which designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft – will work with NASA as a part of its Artemis program, which will take the first woman to the moon.
SpaceX will design the human landing system, which will carry crew, supplies and equipment between a craft in lunar orbit and the moon’s surface during a planned 2024 mission.
The astronauts are set to be launched in orbit in NASA’s Space Launch System rocket, onboard the Orian spacecraft. Two crew members will then transfer over to SpaceX’s human landing system, which will take them down to the moon.
You’ve got to admit, all this space talk is pretty exhilarating. The sheer fact that science and technology have become so advanced, allowing missions like this to be planned in such a calm, matter-of-fact way is a testament to how much more there still is to learn about the universe and outer space.
SpaceX’s human landing system will be called Starship. We can’t help but wonder who decides these names, although we think we already know the answer. They’re wonderfully gimmick-y for something so high-tech, like something out of Silversun or Zathura.
Starship uses Raptor engines and draws on SpaceX’s previous success with Falcon and Dragon spacecraft. Musk’s company was competing against Jeff Bezos’s Blue Original and Dynetics to win the contract with NASA, which must’ve been super satisfying to win. Starship’s architecture is designed for a fully reusable launch and landing system for travel to the moon, Mars and other destinations.
“NASA and our partners will complete the first crewed demonstration mission to the surface of the Moon in the 21st century as the agency takes a step forward for women’s equality and long-term deep space exploration,” NASA’s associate administrator for human explorations and operations mission directorate Kathy Lueders said.
“This critical step puts humanity on a path to sustainable lunar exploration and keeps our eyes on missions farther into the solar system, including Mars.”
The Artemis project will mark the first time humans have landed on the moon since 1972. It’s being undertaken as preparation for a future trip to Mars. At least one of the crew of astronauts on the 2024 mission will be a woman, who will make history by becoming the first woman to land on the moon.
But the program doesn’t stop there. They’re also wanting a person of colour on their mission crew, which will provide another historical moment as the first person of colour to land on the moon.