Monday, December 5

NASA signs an agreement with SpaceX for the second manned lunar landing | Digital Trends Spanish

NASA has signed an agreement with SpaceX for a second mission to put astronauts on the lunar surface before the end of this decade.

The space agency last year selected SpaceX for the first crewed lunar landing in 50 years using a modified version of its Starship spacecraft under development. That mission could happen as early as 2025, with the second landing in 2027.

NASA and SpaceX crewed missions currently involve sending astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) some 250 miles above Earth, but the maiden launch of NASA’s powerful SLS rocket on Thursday as part of the space exploration program Artemis signifies that the moon is about to take center stage when it comes to human travel into space.

The moon-bound Artemis I mission that launched from Kennedy Space Center this week is uncrewed, but the voyage is testing the technologies of a space flight system that will send astronauts on a flyby of the lunar surface in 2024 as part of the Artemis II mission.

After that, Artemis III will put two astronauts on the moon using SpaceX’s spacecraft in 2025, and this week NASA announced it will use the company’s spacecraft for a second landing two years later as part of Artemis IV.

However, SpaceX has yet to fully test the Starship spacecraft, which would fly into orbit aboard SpaceX’s Super Heavy rocket. The first orbital test flight of the new space flight system has faced multiple delays, but could take place before the end of this year.

Looking to the future, NASA plans to build the Lunar Gateway space station that will remain in orbit around the moon and act as a base for astronauts to live and work on long-term missions, similar to how they do now on the ISS. The space agency also wants to build a permanent base on the lunar surface for long-term manned stays. From the base, astronauts will venture to previously unexplored parts of the moon to locate resources such as water ice that could be purified as drinking water, turned into breathable oxygen, or even used as fuel to power the first manned missions to Mars.

“Returning astronauts to the Moon to learn, live and work is a bold effort,” said NASA chief Bill Nelson, in response to Wednesday’s announcement. “With multiple landers planned, from SpaceX and future partners, NASA will be better positioned to meet the missions of tomorrow: performing more science on the surface of the Moon than ever before and preparing for human missions to Mars.”

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