SpaceX Starship Update | SpaceX to Land A Massive Spaceship on The Moon In 2022 for NASA


SpaceX’s next-generation Mars-colonizing Starship
vehicle could make its first extraterrestrial touchdown just three short years. SpaceX is eligible to propose using its Starship
vehicle to carry NASA robotic science payloads to the lunar surface, the U.S. space agency
announced Monday 18th November, on missions that could precede future Starship flights
with people on-board. In its ongoing effort to send cargo — and
eventually people — to the lunar surface, NASA announced five new partnerships with
commercial space companies that have designed robotic landers that can take large payloads
to the Moon via the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. SpaceX proposes to do this work with Starship
and Super Heavy, the reusable spaceship-rocket duo that the company is developing primarily
to help humanity become a multiplanet species. And Starship could start putting NASA payloads
down on Earth’s nearest neighbor quite soon, if all goes according to plan. “For Commercial Lunar Payload Services,
we offered the Starship and Super Heavy launch capability,” said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s
president and chief operating officer. “That capability far exceeds the mass that
Commercial Lunar Payload Services was looking for, but we think that brings pretty extraordinary
capability to NASA, both for the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program and others. Starship is capable of carrying 100 metric
tons to the moon’s dusty gray surface on each trip, Shotwell said. NASA requires the Commercial Lunar Payload
Services providers to be capable of delivering at least 22 pounds, or 10 kilograms, of payload
mass to the moon. Shotwell said SpaceX, founded and led by billionaire
Elon Musk, aims to land a Starship on the moon in 2022. SpaceX is excited about the CLPS partnership
as well. Starship was always designed to carry people,
but early uncrewed efforts such as communication-satellite launches, CLPS flights and cargo missions
to the Martian surface will prove out the vehicle, Shotwell said. “CLPS is a great piece of what we want to
get done with Starship,” she said, similar to the way SpaceX developed a cargo variant
of the Dragon capsule before designing and building an upgraded human-rated Dragon spacecraft. “We’re leveraging NASA initially for cargo
and science, so I think it’s a nice stepping stone and a nice path to getting comfortable
with the technology … so that it’s reliable enough to put people on-board.” In this video Engineering Today will discuss
SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft which May Start Flying Moon Missions in 2022. NASA partners with SpaceX and more to send
large payloads to the Moon. Let’s get into details. The other four companies that joined the Commercial
Lunar Payload Services pool on this monday are California-based Ceres Robotics and Tyvak
Nano-Satellite Systems incorporated.; Sierra Nevada Corp. of Colorado; and Washington-based
Blue Origin. They join Astrobotic, Deep Space Systems,
Draper, Firefly Aerospace, Intuitive Machines, Lockheed Martin, Masten Space Systems, Moon
Express and Orbit Beyond, the nine companies selected as Commercial Lunar Payload Services
providers last year. The companies being added Monday— all vow
to transport much heavier payloads than what the original nine CLPS companies say they
can carry. The original nine companies needed to be able
to carry up to 22 pounds (10 kilograms) to the lunar surface, but some of these new providers
claim they will eventually be able to carry several tons to the Moon. “We have a need and saw a need to bring
on some additional providers that had enhanced lander capabilities,” Steve Clarke, deputy
associate administrator for exploration in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said
during a press conference announcing the new CLPS participants. “This is based on our objectives — the
agency’s objectives — to get to the moon as soon as possible, both from a scientific
standpoint and from a human exploration standpoint.” Clarke said NASA received eight proposals
to join the roster of Commercial Lunar Payload Services providers. The agency picked five companies to “on-ramp”
to the CLPS program. “All of them bring to the table different
strengths and different ideas, and that’s what we want to bring as NASA continues to
lean forward and use commercial services to explore the moon,” Clarke said. “We want as many … diverse ideas as we
can on the table. So we look forward to hearing reading and
assessing those ideas when we put out these task orders.” For Blue Origin, the company is bidding its
very public Blue Moon lander design, which founder Jeff Bezos first unveiled in May. Blue Origin’s Blue Moon cargo lander can
deliver nearly 8,000 pounds, or 3.6 metric tons, of payload equipment to the lunar surface. Brent Sherwood, Blue Origin’s senior vice
president of advanced development programs, said this Monday that the Blue Moon lander
is designed to survive the two-week-long lunar night and can launch on the company’s New
Glenn rocket. Some of the companies are fairly ambitious
with their timelines, claiming they’ll be able to send their spacecraft to the Moon
within the next few years. Ceres Robotics is aiming to land by 2023,
while Sierra Nevada Corporation says it will be ready by 2022. John Roth, vice president of business development
at Sierra Nevada’s space systems division, said the company will modify existing small
satellite platforms for lunar lander missions to haul lighter payloads to the moon. Technologies developed for Sierra Nevada’s
Dream Chaser space station cargo transporter could be used to carry heavier equipment to
the lunar surface, Roth said. The other companies’ initial lander designs
are capable of carrying smaller payload packages to the moon. Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems specializes in
building CubeSats and other small satellites, and Ceres Robotics to develop vehicles to
explore the surfaces of the moon, Mars, asteroids and other planetary bodies. NASA started the Commercial Lunar Payload
Services program to purchase unpiloted rides to the moon for the agency’s scientific
payloads aboard privately-owned spacecraft. NASA views this Commercial Lunar Payload Services
as a key enabler of its Artemis program of crewed lunar exploration, which aims to put
two astronauts, including the first woman, on the moon by 2024 and establish a long-term
human presence there by 2028. As the agency prepares to meet that challenge,
NASA wants to send tech to the Moon to study the lunar environment more in-depth, as well
as demonstrate technologies that might be used for future human missions. Additionally, NASA wants to send a new rover
to the Moon called VIPER, which will travel to the lunar south pole and scout for potential
water ice that might be lurking there. Engineers are interested in using this water
ice as a resource for future human missions. Commercial spacecraft will land hardware and
experiments — such as the VIPER — that pave the way for these astronaut pioneers,
agency officials have stressed. And buying a ride on private craft, rather
than developing and building its own landers, will save the agency a great deal of money,
NASA officials said. The 14 companies now part of the Commercial
Lunar Payload Services program are eligible to compete for NASA contracts to ferry scientific
instruments to the moon. Being chosen to be part of the CLPS program
doesn’t guarantee each company a NASA contract to send their spacecraft to the Moon. It simply means that NASA will consider using
these companies if and when it wants to send cargo or scientific instruments to the lunar
surface. NASA will put out calls for capabilities that
the agency wants, and the companies will bid to have the opportunity to ferry NASA’s
cargo to the Moon. “The services we are buying are buying,
or are procuring, are end-to-end,” Clarke said. “The companies that we award task orders
are responsible for securing a ride on a launch vehicle, and of course, delivering our instruments
or payloads to the surface, and then actually enabling us to operate those instruments or
payloads on the surface of the moon.” “American aerospace companies of all sizes
are joining the Artemis program,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a release. “Expanding the group of companies who are
eligible to bid on sending payloads to the moon’s surface drives innovation and reduces
costs to NASA and American taxpayers. We anticipate opportunities to deliver a wide
range of science and technology payloads to help make our vision for lunar exploration
a reality and advance our goal of sending humans to explore Mars.” In May, NASA selected three companies from
its original pool of participants — Astrobotic, Intuitive Machines, and Orbit Beyond — to
send robotic landers to the Moon in the early 2020s, with each spacecraft carrying a variety
of payloads. Only two of those companies are continuing
toward that goal now, as Orbit Beyond said it would not be able to meet its late 2020
deadline. None of these five companies have actually
built or launched their vehicles yet, so it’s likely their timelines will be delayed, and
it’s still unclear exactly which rockets will take these vehicles to space. Presumably, SpaceX will launch its Starship
on its own future rocket, the Super Heavy, while Blue Origin’s lander will fly on the
company’s future New Glenn rocket. The details for the other cargo spacecraft
have not been finalized yet, and it’s still unknown how NASA plans to use these companies
in the years ahead. NASA is also looking to the private sector
to build the crewed Artemis lander. The agency selected 11 companies this past
May to conduct studies and build prototypes, and this pool had to submit detailed proposals
by Nov. 8. NASA is expected to pick up to four finalists
early next year. In October 2019, NASA unveiled the new spacesuits
to be worn by astronauts during the upcoming moon missions. The Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit,
or xEMU suit for short, is designed to be less restrictive and allow far more movement
than previous spacesuit designs, and also protect the astronauts from the extreme temperatures
that they’re expected to experience during their lunar explorations. The Super Heavy and Starship, both designed
for reuse, will be powered by SpaceX’s methane-fueled Raptor rocket engines. SpaceX intends to land the Super Heavy on
the ground similar to the way the company lands Falcon rocket boosters. The Starship will be similarly capable of
vertical landings on Earth, or on other planetary surfaces. SpaceX is building prototypes of the Starship
vehicle in Texas and Florida. There are big SpaceX Starship milestones coming
in the near future as well.