While Dynetics and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin are doing paperwork, SpaceX is already testing Starship in full as part of NASA's Human Landing System (HLS) program. In addition, Elon Musk's corporation also showed off a concept of a Moon elevator for the Starship.

These three private companies must develop spacecraft that will send people to the Moon in 2024.

NASA will select two or even one candidate whose project will have the highest probability of success by 2024. SpaceX's proposal was considered the riskiest decision, and the company received only $135 million, unlike Dynetics ($253 million) and Blue Origin ($579 million).

Moon landers for NASA mission
Moon landers for NASA mission

It is noted that the two most funded teams were able to provide NASA with only the design of several vehicles and two mock-ups made of cardboard, foam, and wood. In the meantime, SpaceX has built no less than eight full-scale prototypes of the Starship in just 10 months, conducted more than 12 tests with them, and also made a couple of flights into space.

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To these advances can now be added a test of a working prototype elevator that will be used by Starship to launch astronauts to the lunar surface. However, this approach is risky, so SpaceX must demonstrate to NASA that the elevator is completely safe and reliable.

Separately, it is worth noting that it is unclear when and where Elon Musk's company built and tested the elevator, but it looks like SpaceX is doing everything it can to convince NASA that Starship is worth the additional contracts under the HLS program.

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