Starship and Super Heavy Stack.
Credit: SpaceX

 

If you are hungry for a fundamental change in the paradigm for NASA science, technology development and testing, along with the human exploration of space, look no further than the SpaceX Starship system.

That’s a leading conclusion from a paper jointly authored by NASA, university and industry researchers, led by Jennifer Heldmann, an astrobiologist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley.

“Starships flown to the Moon and Mars will provide opportunities to deliver massive cargos and large numbers of people to enable sustained and self-reliant human off-world presence,” the paper suggests, submitted to the National Academies’ next Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey.

Credit: SpaceX

Impending Starship flights

The return of many tons of samples from the Moon and Mars to Earth for scientific analysis will be enabled via the Starship system. The types of payloads conjured up by NASA divisions “could be much different than those designed for traditional NASA flight opportunities with their stringent mass and volume constraints,” the paper explains.

SpaceX Starship human lander design to carry NASA astronauts to the surface of the Moon under the Artemis program.
Credit: SpaceX

Also, the paper points out that, in order to take advantage of the impending Starship flights to the surface of the Moon and Mars, “NASA will need to develop a new funding program consistent with the mission timelines for rapid flights planned by SpaceX.”

Prepare payloads now

Heldmann and nearly 25 other specialists add: “To be most effective, planning should begin immediately to prepare for payloads on the first uncrewed Starship flights, likely first to the Moon and then for Mars.”

Starships locked and loaded on Mars.
Credit: SpaceX

Starship missions to the lunar surface can be an “important stepping stone for reaching Mars” both technically and programmatically, the paper points out. Indeed, Earth’s Moon can serve as a testbed and demonstration platform for utilizing on-the-spot resource technologies as well as for Starship operations.

 

 

 

 

 

To view the entire paper – “Accelerating Martian and Lunar Science through SpaceX Starship Missions” – go to: http://surveygizmoresponseuploads.s3.amazonaws.com/fileuploads/623127/5489366/111-381503be1c5764e533d2e1e923e21477_HeldmannJenniferL.pdf

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