“NASA” has chosen “SpaceX” to send future American astronauts to the moon, in a precedent since 1972, according to what the US Space Agency announced Friday in a major victory for the company owned by Elon Musk.
The contract, worth $ 2.9 billion, is for the prototype Starship spacecraft, which is undergoing trials at a SpaceX site in Texas.
“Today, I’m very excited, all of us too, to announce that SpaceX has been chosen to develop our moon landing system,” said NASA program officer Lisa Watson Morgan.
“SpaceX” won over “Dynetex”, and also over “Blue Origin”, owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos, and thus became the only supplier of the system, which contradicts the approach adopted in the past because “NASA” often chose several companies as a backup plan in case it failed. One of them is on the mission.
Last year, SpaceX became the first private company to successfully send a crew of astronauts to the International Space Station, giving Americans the ability to achieve this feat for the first time since the end of the Shuttle spacecraft program.
“SpaceX” presented its new “Starship” reusable vehicle designed to transport large crews and massive cargo for long space flights, which can land standing up.
Tests of prototypes of the missile are underway in Texas, but the four flights have all been unsuccessful, ending in explosions.
Within the framework of the “Artemis” program aimed at sending people to the moon, “NASA” seeks to use the heavy rocket “SLS” (Space Launch System) to launch four astronauts on board the “Orion” capsule, which will then coalesce at a lunar orbital station called ” Gateway. “
The “Starship” missile will be on hold as it prepares to receive two crew members for the final stage of the flight to the surface of the moon.
The idea is for Gateway to be used as an intermediate station, but in the first mission, Orion could dock directly with Starship, according to Lisa Watson-Morgan.
The astronauts will then spend a week on the moon, before moving to the Starship rocket to return to lunar orbit, and then return to Earth on board the “Orion”.
In parallel, “SpaceX” aspires to combine its “Starship” spacecraft with its “Super Heavy” missile to create a 120-meter-high vehicle that will be the most powerful launch pad.
Humans last set foot on the moon in 1972 during the “Apollo” program.
“NASA” seeks to return and establish a permanent presence with a lunar space station, to test new technologies that will open the way for a manned mission to Mars.
And in 2019, then US Vice President Mike Pence put NASA in front of the challenge of sending the first human crew that for the first time includes a woman to land on the moon by 2024, but the date may be delayed.
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