A picture of SpaceX’s Starship nosecone with NASA’s new “worm” logo was posted on Twitter by a photographer and it has stirred up euphoria in space enthusiasts on what SpaceX plans to do with the spacecraft.
Austin Barnard, a photographer, posted the image on Twitter on October 22, 2020.
However, Barnard captioned the picture as “NASA Artemis Moon lander anyone?” and guessed that it could be a “mock-up lunar variant for the Starship presentation”.
NASA Artemis Moon lander anyone?🚀🌙 pic.twitter.com/ORhSMLq12v
— Austin Barnard🚀 (@austinbarnard45) October 22, 2020
The presentation Barnard referred to is a Starship event that is expected to take place later this month. At this event, the company is expected to present an improved prototype of the next-gen rocket Starship, which according to Musk, is what will fly as the Starship official version 1.0 “without any changes”.
The Artemis mission is NASA’s lunar exploration programme which aims at landing astronauts on the Moon. NASA wants the first woman and next man to set foot on the lunar surface in 2024. This mission is expected to be the first of its kind since 1972, the last time an astronaut walked on the Moon.
In April, NASA selected Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, Elon Musk’s SpaceX and information technology firm Dynetics to build landers to execute the Artemis mission. Following this announcement, NASA started collaborating with the companies to build the human landers. NASA is expected to choose up to two proposed designs by early next year to execute the 2024 Artemis mission.
SpaceX’s design concept for the mission is Starship, which will be lifted off through the company’s Super Heavy booster. Musk has claimed that the final prototype of the Starship spacecraft will be sufficient to accommodate as many as 100 people.
Starship is an integral part of SpaceX’s future plans of flying to the Moon, Mars and other destinations in space. The previous prototypes have been tested to fly up to 150m in the air. On October 20, SN8, the latest prototype, fired three raptor engines, etching yet another milestone in Starship’s journey. If all goes according to plan, the SN8 prototype will be able to record a flight of 15-18 kms in the test flight expected to take place later this month.
Elon Musk-led SpaceX is an incredible testimony as to why privatisation of space travel is capable of doing wonders. From reusable rockets to Starlink internet constellation, SpaceX has opened the doors to a new era of space exploration. In fact, on October 22, 2020, analysts from Morgan Stanley doubled the company’s long-term valuation estimate to a whopping $100 billion as it continues to burgeon in the space industry. Adam Jones, an analyst at the firm, told the investors in a note, “SpaceX continues to solidify its place as ‘mission control’ for the emerging space economy. Important milestones with Starlink, Starship and government contracts dovetail to support an increase in our base case valuation.”