Who is Elon Musk?
Elon Musk, (born June 28, 1971, Pretoria, South Africa), South African-born American entrepreneur who cofounded the electronic-payment firm PayPal and formed SpaceX, maker of launch vehicles and spacecraft. ... britannica.comElon Musk | Biography & Facts
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Ed Lawrence on Musk-built mass transit system
NASA announced on Friday it has awarded a $2.9 billion contract to Elon Musk’s space exploration company SpaceX to build the craft intended to transport U.S. astronauts to the lunar surface for the first time in decades.
"NASA has chosen SpaceX to return us to the moon," a representative said in a press conference on Friday, who added that the next phase will involve testing the technology.
SpaceX offered up its reusable Starship spacecraft for the mission to deliver humans to the lunar surface for the first time in 50 years. Musk beat out Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origins and a defense contractor known as Dynetics.
Musk said, in a Tweet, "We are humbled to help @NASAArtimis usher in a new era of human space exploration."
The news was first reported by The Washington Post on Friday.
The mission to return astronauts to the moon, known as Artemis, was championed by President Donald Trump. It is expected to allow astronauts to access different parts of the lunar surface and to help inform and prepare the agency for its next mission – landing on Mars.
Trump signed an initiative directing NASA to send astronauts back to the moon in December 2017, on the 45th anniversary of Apollo 17. Vice President Mike Pence gave the agency the 2024 deadline in March of last year. The agency had previously planned to return to the lunar surface in 2028.
While the Biden administration is on board with the mission, the Trump-era deadline is up for debate.
Former NASA chief Jim Bridenstine has previously said that achieving the goal of reaching the moon by 2024 is "all based on funding."
Funding for the mission fell in at $325 million this year – which is short of what Bridenstine indicated was necessary to meet Trump’s timeline, as noted by The Washington Post.
During a press conference on Friday, NASA executives said their goal was to land Americans on the moon "as quickly and safely as possible"
"We may have a shot at 2024," an executive said when pressed on whether the timeframe was still in play.
"Existing resource constraints" were cited, as well as safety, as the agency planned to assess when it would be appropriate to take off.
The Artemis program will make history by including both the first female and the first person of color among its astronauts that will land on the moon.
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16 April, 2021 - 11:16pm
SpaceX bid its Starship spacecraft for the Artemis program, a reusable rocket the company has been building and testing from its facility in Boca Chica, Texas.
The company has tested a number of prototypes, launching them from its facility without any people on board several miles up in the air and then flying them back to the launch pad.
All prototypes so far have exploded upon landing, although one successfully landed on March 3 for several moments before it was engulfed in flames.
NASA’s Artemis mission will land the first woman on the moon, as well as the first person of color.
16 April, 2021 - 11:16pm
By coincidence, their flight to the International Space Station is set for next Thursday — Earth Day. It's a reminder of NASA's core mission of studying the home planet, the space agency's acting administrator Steve Jurczyk said as he welcomed the astronauts to Kennedy Space Center
The three men and one woman represent the U.S., France and Japan: NASA's Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Thomas Pesquet and Akihiko Hoshide, all experienced space fliers.
“It's definitely getting real,” Kimbrough, the spacecraft commander, said after arriving by plane from Houston.
This will be SpaceX s third launch of astronauts in less than a year, and the first to use a recycled Falcon rocket and Dragon crew capsule. NASA turned to U.S. private companies for crew transport after the space shuttle program ended in 2011.
“Certainly, I think all of them, until we get several years under our belt, should be considered test flights,” Kimbrough told reporters.
SpaceX uses the same kind of rocket and similar capsules for supply deliveries, and recycles those as well.
McArthur is the only member of the crew who has yet to visit the space station. She flew the shuttle to the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009. And launching out of Kennedy is new to Pesquet after more than 11 years as an astronaut.
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“We’re living in the golden age of human spaceflight,” said Pesquet, a former Air France pilot. “Looks like everybody, every country, has a project or a spacecraft.”
The astronauts left the runway in a pair of white gull-winged Teslas; SpaceX founder Elon Musk also runs the electric car company. They had an early bedtime to sync up with what will be pretty much an all-nighter Thursday. Liftoff time is 6:11 a.m.
The four will replace the SpaceX crew that launched last November. Those four will return to Earth at the end of April. A fresh three-person Soyuz crew, meanwhile, arrived at the space station last week from Kazakhstan, replacing two Russians and one American due back on Earth this weekend.
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