A week ago, Science Times reported that Elon Musk's Starship won the $2.9 billion contract for the NASA Human Landing System (HLS) program to build a lunar lander that will bring the first woman and first person of color to the Moon under the Artemis program.
This program was first announced during former President Trump's administration and will hopefully be continued during President Joe Biden's administration.
It signals the return of humankind on the lunar surface and Elon Musk's Starship will help in bringing this project to reality. The last crewed Moon mission was with the last Apollo program in 1972.
2024 Moon Landing Project is Doable, Elon Musk Says
Speaking after the successful SpaceX launch of the Crew-2 mission on Friday, Elon Musk said he thinks the 2024 Moon landing project is doable.
"We're going to aim for sooner than that, but I think this is actually doable," he added. "We're building up a lot of rockets, and probably [will] smash a bunch of them, but I think it will happen."
Musk's company will build a variation of Starship rockets, of which SpaceX has been testing its prototypes in Boca Chica, Texas. CNBC reported that the company had performed successful tests on the prototypes, although the last landing attempts to the four high-altitude flights ended in explosions.
Emphasizing SpaceX's vision for flying regular flights to the Moon and beyond, Elon Musk has expressed that he is honored that his company has been chosen to return people to the lunar surface.
He said that after half a century of not sending astronauts to the Moon, it is now time to get back there and create a permanent base. Then, hopefully, build a city on Mars to become a spacefaring civilization and a multiplanet species.
"We don't want to be one of those single-planet species, we want to be a multiplanet species," he said.
He previously estimated that the project would cost around $5 billion to fully develop a rapid and recyclable Starship rocket. He noted that the win of the Human Landing System contract is a big help in the development of the rocket that was mostly funded internally.
Progress of Starship Test Flights
SpaceX has been testing its Starship rocket prototypes miles above its rocket development facilities. But so far, the latest ones ended in explosions, Business Insider reported.
The rockets seem to flawlessly launch into the stratosphere and shut off their engines but have trouble perfecting their landing.
For instance, Starship SN8 and SN9 slammed into the ground at high speed, which immediately exploded. While SN10 prototype, the third test flight, blew up ten minutes after landing in one piece. Then the fourth, SN11, did not even get a chance to land as it exploded midair when it relit its engines after flipping upright for landing.
Musk acknowledged that there is more work to do in creating the Starship rocket. Nailing to land the rocket is crucial for the safety of future astronauts that will be sent to the Moon in a few years under NASA's Artemis program. It also plays a significant role in a larger launching system that Musk's company is developing.