NASA Astronauts fly over SpaceX’s Starship facility in Texas

Only 24 astronauts have traveled to the moon in the history of mankind, and no one has returned since 1972. SpaceX is designing the technologies and spacecraft that will enable humans to return to the lunar surface. The aerospace company has produced some of the most advanced rockets and spacecrafts in the world, which have shown reliability for transporting cargo and astronauts into orbit.

Under NASA’s Artemis initiative, SpaceX’s incredible track record landed it a contract to build a lunar-optimized Starship to carry crew between lunar orbit and the Moon’s surface. “Last year, NASA announced Starship as eligible for the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative – to deliver payloads between Earth and the Moon, and to enable humans to return to the Moon,” SpaceX said. The goal of NASA’s Artemis program is to introduce the first woman and the next man to the lunar surface by 2024. The SpaceX-earned Artemis contract is estimated at $135 million. “The SpaceX human lander design is a single-stage solution with Starship, their fully reusable launch and landing system designed for travel to the Moon, Mars and beyond,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said earlier this year, “The proposal included an in-space propellant transfer demonstration and uncrewed test landing.”

Lunar-optimized Starship / Image Source: SpaceX

In South Texas at Boca Chica, a small beach town in the town of Brownsville, located near the border with Mexico, SpaceX is actively developing Starship. NASA astronauts flew onboard the Northrop T-38 jet from the agency, flying over Boca Chica Beach and taking aerial photos. “This week, I had the chance fly over the SpaceX facility in Boca Chica… where they’re building Starship as part of NASA’s effort to return to the moon. Our common objective even made an appearance for a great photo-op in pic #3! To the Moon!” NASA Astronaut Robert Hines shared via Twitter, pictured below. The crew of astronauts that conducted a fly-over are: Don Pettit, Randy Bresnik, and Anne McClain. –“Credit to Pettit for the amazing pics! Thanks to Bresnik, Pettit, and McClain for a great day of flying!” said Hines.

With large spacecraft assembly buildings, huge tent structures, and the ongoing construction of the first orbital-class Starship launchpad, the sandy piece of land has been rapidly converted into a rocket factory. The company plans to turn Boca Chica beach into a spaceport and resort of the 21st century where workers can enjoy living and working to make life multi-planetary. There are multiple stainless-steel Starship designs under assembly at the same time. Each will undergo tests that will give engineers insight into the development of a launch vehicle that is space-ready. SpaceX will soon be performing a Starship concept high altitude test flight, lifting 50,000 feet (15 kilometers) and attempting a landing later this month.

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