SpaceX detailed how it will help NASA reach the moon using a complex, multi-month refueling process. According to Elon Musk, up to 16 Starship launches will be needed to get safely to the moon.
New details have surfaced on how Elon Musk and SpaceX count refuel the Starship spaceship on his journey to the Moon and without having to return to Earth.
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For these new lunar missions, SpaceX was selected over other well-known space transportation companies, including Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Dynetics, securing a lucrative partnership of $ 35 billion with NASA.
The first manned mission to the moon should take place in 2024, although this date is likely to slip due to a number of factors, including the health crisis. SpaceX’s last launch was on June 30, 2021 with the Transporter 2 rocket, which landed safely after lift-off.
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In a report and on Twitter, SpaceX details the Starship spacecraft refueling operation. The company explains that a Starship ship will essentially function as fuel depot : once it has reached a stable orbit around the Earth, SpaceX will then launch eight refueling rockets – up to 16, potentially, see Elon Musk’s Tweet below -, who, for six months, will moor there in order to gradually fill their tanks one after the other.
Once done, the Moon Lander spacecraft will launch from Earth and dock at the Starship Depot, supplementing it with plenty of fuel for its mission. Once this operation is completed, it will fly to the Moon, dock with the spaceship Orion from NASA (carrying the astronauts), then land on the Moon with its crew.
16 flights is extremely unlikely. Starship payload to orbit is ~150 tons , so max of 8 to fill 1200 ton tanks of lunar Starship.
Without flaps & heat shield, Starship is much lighter. Lunar landing legs don’t add much (1/6 gravity). May only need 1/2 full, ie 4 tanker flights.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 11, 2021