It’s been over four decades since humans have stepped foot on the moon. With a newfound interest on space exploration, however, that may soon change. According to Elon Musk, SpaceX could potentially send human astronauts to the moon by 2024 using its Starship rocket.
When speaking about Starship, Musk said he believes it will be ready for an unmanned moon mission in the next two years. For a manned moon mission, Musk believes it will take just one or two additional years. Therefore, SpaceX CEO and founder Musk believes his company’s Starship rocket could send astronauts to the moon as early as 2024.
“Well, this is gonna sound pretty crazy, but I think we could land on the moon in less than two years,” said Musk during an interview with Time. “Certainly with an uncrewed vehicle I believe we could land on the moon in two years. So then maybe within a year or two of that we could be sending crew. I would say four years at the outside,” he added.
What is Starship exactly? Developed by SpaceX, Starship is a reusable rocket that’s able to take payloads, such as manned crew capsules as well as satellites, into space. SpaceX first began working on Starship in 2012. At the time, however, the reusable rocket was referred to as the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR). It wasn’t until last November when Musk renamed the reusable rocket to Starship.
Starship is a two-stage launch vehicle. The first stage is the booster stage, whereas the second stage is the reusable spacecraft with an integrated payload area. What’s truly impressive is that both stages of Starship are completely reusable, allowing for enormous cost-savings benefits.
Of course, SpaceX isn’t the only space organization with its eyes set on a manned moon mission. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has unveiled a similar plan, which includes sending the first female astronaut to the moon. Known as the Artemis project, it’s actually part of a bigger goal to colonize the Red Planet. In other words, NASA wants to establish a colony on the moon first, after which it will send astronauts to Mars where they’ll establish a second colony. Although it’s a bold initiative to say the least, NASA is working towards making its Artemis project a reality. And now that SpaceX is making the final touches on its Starship rocket, NASA may look to the private space company for help.