There seems to be many launch articles and schedules with different dates and different definitions of the mission out there. I know these things are very fluid and there can be old not updated stuff on the web but just looking at stuff that is recently posted or launch schedules that are supposed to be updated I'm still seeing all kinds of conflicting stuff . Some say a launch date of March 22 for the full system to launch unmanned with a moon orbit and return and splash down to earth. Others call it a "wet rehearsal" which sounds like a fill er up with fuel but no launch and then other dates say April, another said no earlier than June...etc. What's really planned for this sucker this year? Thanks John
It appears to me that the launch schedule will continue to slip.
It is already about four years behind schedule and tens of billions over budget. It will take luck to get a unmanned launch by December 2022. If there is anything less than full success, it might take two years before there would be a second attempt.
Elon Musk's schedule and cost estimate for the HLS starship moon lander seems like pure fairy dust. So far he has exploded seven test starships with one launch and recovery only to an altitude of 30,000 feet. The fully loaded startship with booster weighs bout 5000 tons. If if explodes on launch it would be like a small atomic bomb. I doubt that the FAA will give Spcex a license for a full orbital test from Boca Chica. If that happens Spacex will have to built a full launch facility at Cape Kennedy which would likely cost at least a billion and take more than a year. Thernal tiles are apparently falling off the starship with great regularity. If the tiles fall off during an orbital reentry, the ship will likely burn up like the Columbia space shuttle. It might take several years before a successful orbit and reentry. The first test flight will not even try to do a soft landing.
That will likely take even longer. At present the starship is nothing more than an empty tin can with a rocket motor. There has been no development for manned crew quarters or long term life support and electrical supply.
I do not understand how it is possible to maintain cryogenic fuels ( methane and oxygen) in space for long periods of time.
Apparently it may require more than six months to send up ten refueling rockets before the star ship could leave orbit and proceed to the moon. Musk says that the star ship can orbit the moon for about 100 days waiting for the arrival of the astronauts on the orione space ship. It seems to me that the fuel will have mostly vented into space by this time.
Blue Origin has now been given a contract to develop and second moon lander. This one seems to more closely resemble the successful apollo LM system. This may work but will likely take at least five years to develop and test.
One other issue is the development of a new moon space suit. This is currently scheduled for April 2025, but may also fall behind schedule.
All things considered , my guess is that no NASA astronauts will reach the moon before 2027.