An official from SpaceX confirmed that the company's Starship spacecraft will launch on a flight to the Moon three years from now. If everything goes well during the future launch, SpaceX could then proceed with providing commercial spaceflight services to the lunar surface.
During the last couple of months, SpaceX has unveiled to the public its Starship spacecraft. According to the company, Starship will serve as a fully reusable spacecraft that will provide commercial spaceflights to the Moon and Mars. As noted by the company, the spacecraft can accommodate up to 100 passengers.
Recently, Gwynne Shotwell, the current president and COO of SpaceX, announced the potential launch window for the Starship spacecraft. According to the company official, SpaceX is hoping to launch the spacecraft and reach the Moon sometime in 2022. Depending on the status of the launch, Shotwell said that the company could then proceed with transporting humans to the Moon through Starship.
"We want Starship in orbit next year; we want to land it on the Moon before 2022 with cargo and with people shortly thereafter," Shotwell said during a recent investor conference according to CNBC.
With the hopes of transporting people to the Moon, Shotwell said that SpaceX is looking to pioneer effective ways on how to successfully land a spacecraft on the Moon. These include carrying out refueling procedures on the Moon as well as launching again from the lunar surface for a return trip to Earth. If SpaceX is able to accomplish these, then the company will be able to achieve a momentous feat in the history of spaceflights.
"If you're going to take people to other planets, you can't wait for a new aerospace industry to develop on the planet before you can figure out how to land a rocket. You have to figure out how to land, refuel, and come back," Shotwell explained.
According to Shotwell, SpaceX plans to learn more about these procedures through frequent launches of its Crew Dragon spacecraft, the company's vessel that was contracted by NASA to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Through numerous launch missions, SpaceX is looking to improve its understanding of flight systems in order to provide safer spaceflights.
"It's a critical program for us, as it's our first step to flying astronauts," Shotwell said. "Then we'll put people on Starship and send them to farther places."