SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has told his team to focus its efforts on the development of Starship, its next-generation reusable rocket system that the commercial space company wants to use for crewed missions to the moon and Mars.
Musk signaled his intention to ramp up work on the ambitious project in a recent internal email obtained by CNBC, and comes just days after SpaceX succeeded with the first crewed launch of its Crew Dragon spacecraft, transporting NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station.
In the email, which SpaceX employees received on Saturday, June 6, Musk wrote: “Please consider the top SpaceX priority (apart from anything that could reduce Dragon return risk) to be Starship,” at the same time imploring his team to “dramatically and immediately” accelerate work on the space transportation system.
While Falcon 9 currently operates as SpaceX’s workhorse rocket for its cargo, satellite, and now astronaut missions, Musk evidently feels it’s time to double down on efforts to develop the 120-meter-tall Starship launch system, which comprises the Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket that will carry it into orbit.
Musk has said previously that he wants Starship to become the first mass-produced rocket, with a new one rolling off the line every 72 hours. Each rocket and spacecraft will have the ability to be reused in a similar way to its Falcon 9 system, thereby helping to dramatically cut the cost of space transportation.
It had been hoped that Starship could make an uncrewed landing on the moon in 2021 ahead of an astronaut mission. But that date may slip following a number of dramatic failures during testing, the most recent one occurring just last month during a static-fire test of its engines at SpaceX’s facility in Texas. The cause is still being investigated.
Still, hopes are high for Starship, with NASA recently selecting SpaceX to build a lunar-optimized version for transporting crew between lunar orbit and the surface of the moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program.
Digital Trends has reached out to SpaceX for more information on how it’s planning to accelerate work on the development of its Starship system and we will update this article when we hear back.
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