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It seems like this would be very good publicity as well as a necessary proof of concept, and SpaceX certainly has some experience with robotic/automated landings on Earth.

I'm assuming this will be needed before crewed flights, wouldn't they need them to make sure that some mix of supplies, habitat and/or fuel are there ahead of time?

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  • $\begingroup$ have you looked at "blue Moon" $\endgroup$
    – user20636
    Jan 1, 2020 at 12:37
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    $\begingroup$ can you give me a link? many hits on song, etc. $\endgroup$
    – releseabe
    Jan 1, 2020 at 12:39
  • $\begingroup$ I've adjusted your wording to make your question more answerable based on facts (i.e. "Has SpaceX said much publicly...") because what they have planned privately would either be speculation or a breech of confidence... and so a question about that would probably get closed quickly. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jan 1, 2020 at 13:01
  • $\begingroup$ Seems it's dear moon en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DearMoon_project, and is at or beyond spaceX current ambitions. Note SpaceX is in the business of launching commercial payloads to earth orbit for profit. $\endgroup$ Jan 1, 2020 at 13:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Uhoh, was more looking that as a company they were in the business of building big rockets that operate for minutes rather than small probes that operate for months, but they have starlink now so I'm wrong there as well. Fun question would be how much would they need to mod a starlink to get into lunar orbit, and still talk to earth. $\endgroup$ Jan 2, 2020 at 8:52

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Yes indeed, SpaceX has announced publicly about uncrewed landings on the Moon before 2022 !

From the article Spacex wants to land Starship on the Moon before 2022, then do cargo runs for 2024 human landing:

"Aspirationally, we want to get Starship to orbit within a year", Shotwell said.
"We definitely want to land it on the Moon before 2022. We want to [...] stage cargo there to make sure that there are resources for the folks that ultimately land on the Moon by 2024, if things go well, so that's the aspirational time frame. "

That's an ambitious timeline, and as Shotwell herself repeatedly stated, these are "aspirational" timelines. In the space industry, aswell as in tech, it's not uncommon for leadership to set aggressive schedules in order to drive the teams working on projects to work at the limits of what's actually possible.

(emphases by me)

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    $\begingroup$ It is 2022 already. WTF? $\endgroup$
    – releseabe
    Apr 4, 2022 at 20:30
  • $\begingroup$ @releseabe You can't always get it like you want it to go ! $\endgroup$
    – Cornelis
    Apr 9, 2022 at 14:24
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    $\begingroup$ Reality bites... $\endgroup$ Apr 9, 2022 at 15:16
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    $\begingroup$ Also note that the article was written in 2019. In 2021, SpaceX got a contract with NASA to not only land cargo, but to develop a Starship variant for landing the Artemis 3 crew. And they're still waiting for permission to do the first launch, but the vehicle they're planning to launch is much further along in development than what they were originally planning to fly, and it'll launch with much more complete ground infrastructure. Plans change. $\endgroup$ Apr 9, 2022 at 15:51

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