Daily US Times: Nasa has chosen SpaceX to build a lander that will return humans to the Moon this decade.
This vehicle, under the space agency’s Artemis programme, will carry the next man and the first woman down to the lunar surface.
Another goal of the programme will be to land the first person of colour on the surface of the Moon.
The lander is based on SpaceX’s Starship craft, which is being tested at a site in southern Texas.
SpaceX, owns by Elon Musk, was competing against a joint bid from traditional aerospace giants and Jeff Bezos, A,azon founder, as well as Alabama-based Dynetics. The total value of the contract awarded to SpaceX is $2.89bn.
Kathy Lueders, the organisation’s head of human exploration, said: “With this award, 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.”
“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 programme, initiated under the previous Trump administration, had targeted a return to the lunar surface in 2024. But a shortfall in funding of the landing system has made that aim unattainable.
Elon Musk, the billionaire tech entreprenure, has been developing the Starship design for years. Resembling the rocketships from the golden age of science fiction, it is a crucial component of Musk’s long-term plans for settling humans on Mars.
Though, for now it will serve as the lander that ferries astronauts from lunar orbit to the surface.
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