Starship manned lunar landings by 2022?

Capitalism in space: According to SpaceX’s CEO Gwynne Shotwell at a conference on October 25, the company is targeting the first unmanned cargo landing of Starship on the Moon by 2021, with manned missions shortly thereafter.

Shotwell, speaking at Baron Fund’s annual investment conference at the Metropolitan Opera House on Friday, gave an update on SpaceX’s goals for Starship. “We want Starship in orbit next year; we want to land it on the moon before 2022 with cargo and with people shortly thereafter,” Shotwell said.

However, much like Musk in his presentation last month, Shotwell hedged her estimate, saying that “every time I make a prediction about schedule I turn myself into a liar.”

If they even come close to doing this they will certainly make NASA’s SLS rocket look ridiculous. They began serious development of Starship in early 2019. Even if development takes twice as long as Shotwell’s prediction, they will be landing on the Moon in about six years, in 2025. SLS has been in development since 2004, and its total cost once launched is expected to be more than $25 billion, a cost that does not include an extra $1.6 billion NASA has said it needs to land on the Moon by 2024 and that Congress has so far refused to appropriate.

SpaceX meanwhile has raised $1.3 billion, from private sources, to build Starship.

If you were a customer which product would you buy?


  • Matt in AZ

    Hey, maybe those Artemis spacesuits will come in handy after all, just not on the vehicle originally intended.

  • John

    That seems like crazy aggressive scheduling, but who knows.

    When Starship gets closer to flying and even landing on the moon, is it clear what role NASA and other government agencies will play? Can SpaceX say screw you we’re good and we’re going with our own people on board?

  • Edward

    John asked: “is it clear what role NASA and other government agencies will play?

    The FAA and the FCC have some amount of regulation. The main role of the FCC is to ensure that there is no radio interference between SpaceX’s craft and other radio-frequency users.

    The idea of commercializing space is to reduce the roles of NASA and government. Many current commercial satellite operators have minimal contact with NASA and are able to operate their own spacecraft independently. There are even commercial ground stations that handle communications to and from satellites, a business that expects to boom in the next few years, especially as they are finding ways to be more efficient.

    The seemingly crazy schedule comes from SpaceX’s desire to do rapid development. SpaceX does not have a lot of spare money, as they are currently developing several products, and they need to get each one operational and generating revenue as soon as possible, otherwise they will just be hemorrhaging money.

    Even if it takes them twice as long to get to the Moon, 2025 is faster than most people think NASA can realistically do it. For my money, I would bet on SpaceX over NASA to be the one to put the first woman and the next man on the Moon. I expect this to become, in the next year or so, a new space race with a lot of associated news media excitement and hype.

  • David K

    I agree with Edward in that this is looking to be a new space race, not between countries but between government space agencies and private ones. This is really no different than the post office vs ups vs fedex.

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