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posted by janrinok on Sunday October 27 2019, @07:21AM   Printer-friendly
from the ambitious dept.

Submitted via IRC for soylent_brown

SpaceX wants to land Starship on the Moon before 2022, then do cargo runs for 2024 human landing – TechCrunch

Speaking at a quick series of interviews with commercial space company’s at this year’s annual International Astronautical Congress, SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell shed a little more light on her company’s current thinking with regards to the mission timelines for its forthcoming Starship spacefaring vehicle. Starship, currently in parallel development at SpaceX’s South Texas and Florida facilities, is intended to be an all-purpose successor to, and replacement for, both Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, with a higher payload capacity and the ability to reach the Moon and eventually Mars.

“Aspirationally, we want to get Starship to orbit within a year,” Shotwell said. “We definitely want to land it on the Moon before 2022. We want to […] stage cargo there to make sure that there are resources for the folks that ultimately land on the moon by 2024, if things go well, so that’s the aspirational timeframe.”

That’s an ambitious timeline, and as Shotwell herself repeatedly stated, these are “aspirational” timelines. In the space industry, as well as in tech, it’s not uncommon for leadership to set aggressive schedules in order to drive the teams working on projects to work at the limits of what’s actually possible. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is also known for working to timelines that often don’t match up with reality, and Shotwell alluded to Musk’s ambitious goal setting as a virtue in another part of her on-stage interview at IAC.

“Elon puts out these incredibly audacious goals and people say ‘You’re not going to do it, you’ll never get to orbit, you’ll never get a real rocket to orbit, […] you’ll never get Heavy to orbit, you’ll never get Dragon to the station, you’ll never get Dragon back, and you’ll never land a rocket,'” she said. “So, frankly, I love when people say we can’t do it, because it motivates my fantastic 6,500 employees to go do that thing.”

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  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Sunday October 27 2019, @05:37PM (1 child)

    by takyon (881) <> on Sunday October 27 2019, @05:37PM (#912468) Journal []

    They are just going to keep landing these things on the Moon until there's a graveyard of them, unless they gather up enough carbon and ice water for surface refueling.

    You can live inside a dead Starship.

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  • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Monday October 28 2019, @02:24AM

    by Immerman (3985) on Monday October 28 2019, @02:24AM (#912620)

    Only if they want to. Unlike for Mars, they don't need to refuel on the moon's surface to get back. You'd like to, it would be WAY more cost-effective, but you don't *have* to. One of the things that really changed the way I looked at Starship was the announcement that if they refueled in a very high Earth orbit, they could land on the moon and return to Earth with a modest payload.

    Of course, they might actually prove to be a cost-effective option for early habitats as well. Assuming the walls are a generous were half-meter thick for shielding, you'd have an interior floor area of 50m2 (538sqft) per level, and enough height for six floors without much trouble, though the top ones would be smaller. 300m2/~3000sqft of fully operational habitat, delivered to any flat surface on the moon?

    That sounds like a perfect roaming survey base to me. We could have multi-month preliminary research missions scouting promising areas on the surface, getting experience with longer-term moon missions and finding especially promising building sites, before beginning to invest in building more permanent structures.

    At which point, heck yeah - land a Starship or three at choice locations around the chosen construction site to become permanent fixtures as observation towers and initial habitats. I imagine construction would go a whole lot more smoothly when you've got well-tested drop-in habitats.