Musk just turbocharged SpaceX's plans to send astronauts to the Moon.
Priority Number One
In an internal email obtained by CNBC, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told his space company’s staff that they should “please consider the top SpaceX priority (apart from anything that could reduce Dragon return risk) to be Starship.”
Musk called for progress to be accelerated on the project “dramatically and immediately,” and even offered up a “dedicated SpaceX aircraft to shuttle people” to the Starship development site in Texas — effectively turbocharging his plans to use the craft to fly astronauts to the Moon and Mars.
SpaceX successfully launched NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station last month in its Crew Dragon spacecraft. The two test pilots have yet to make their return journey through the Earth’s atmosphere — a leg of the historic mission that comes with its own risks.
Starship, however, is a far more grand endeavor. The company plans to construct a massive, towering spacecraft that will one day be capable of ferrying up to 100 passengers to the Moon and Mars — if everything goes according to plan.
That’ll be a lot of work. A mere day before the historic Crew Dragon launch in Florida last month, a different SpaceX team based in Texas experienced a dramatic setback: the fourth Starship prototype, called SN4, was eviscerated during a fuel test, blowing up in a huge fireball.
But the good news is that work is already underway for its replacement. “SpaceX got a lot further with SN4 than previous vehicles, and SN5 seems about ready to go for testing,” senior space editor at Ars Technica Eric Berger wrote in a tweet at thetime.
More on Starship: BREAKING: SPACEX’S STARSHIP PROTOTYPE BLOWS UP IN HUGE FIREBALL