Will SpaceX Starship Beat NASA to the Moon?

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SpaceX’s President Says the SpaceX Starship Could Land With Cargo in 2022, and with People Shortly After.

NASA plans to send the first woman and the next man to the Moon by 2024. Those of us covering the story made much ado over Vice President Pence’s April announcement that cut the deadline by four years. NASA, of course, also made much ado. In fact, Jim Bridenstine, NASA’s oft-beleaguered administrator went into full mission mode. He fired William Gerstenmeier, head of human spaceflight for decades. Publically, he taunted/threatened Elon Musk and other private contractors. And politically, he aggressively sought the budget necessary to deal with such a tight timeline. Now Musk and co say the SpaceX Starship is going to get there first.

Recently, Gwenne Shotwell, SpaceX President and COO outlined the company’s plans for both its Starship project and the Starlink satellite constellation. In 2019, SpaceX has raised over $1.3 billion to continue development of both projects. Starship, one of the most ambitious spacecraft projects in history, is currently in its final stages of development. In fact, the company is building two prototypes concurrently.

The Revised Starship Timetable

Speaking at Baron Fund’s annual investment conference at the Metropolitan Opera House, Shotwell updated investors on SpaceX’s goals for Starship.

“We want Starship in orbit next year; we want to land it on the moon before 2022 with cargo and with people shortly thereafter,” she said.

If “shortly thereafter” means a year or less, then that means SpaceX is planning on beating Artemis to the prize. This is interesting news considering NASA’s demand for a Crew Dragon capsule. The agency has also been frustrated by the seeming priority that SpaceX has placed on Starship over Crew Dragon.

The race to the moon, it appears, just got real.

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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