SpaceX engineer says NASA should plan for Starship’s “significant” capability

In this illustration, SpaceX's Starship vehicle is seen landing on the Moon.

Enlarge / In this illustration, SpaceX’s Starship vehicle is seen landing on the Moon. (credit: NASA)

As part of its Artemis program to return humans to the Moon this decade, NASA has a minimum requirement that its “human landing system” must be able to deliver 865 kg to the lunar surface. This is based on the mass of two crew members and their equipment needed for a short stay.

However, in selecting SpaceX’s Starship vehicle to serve as its human lander, NASA has chosen a system with a lot more capability. Starship will, in fact, be able to deliver 100 metric tons to the surface of the Moon—more than 100 times NASA’s baseline goal.

“Starship can land 100 tons on the lunar surface,” said Aarti Matthews, Starship Human Landing System program manager for SpaceX. “And it’s really hard to think about what that means in a tangible way. One hundred tons is four fire trucks. It’s 100 Moon rovers. My favorite way to explain this to my kids is that it’s the weight of more than 11 elephants.”

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