SpaceX and Blue Origin awarded NASA Contracts to develop Moon Lander Concepts for future Artemis Missions
NASA appoints five companies for trips to the Moon with the Artemis mission. The company has put forth a $146 million contract among five companies with an aim to develop human landing system concepts, conduct risk-reduction activities, and give necessary feedback on NASA’s requirements to cultivate industry capabilities for crewed lunar landing missions.
The funds availed are generated for Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP-2) whose work is to be carried on over the next 15 months.
NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, Kathy Lueders, said that “Artemis goal is to establish a long-term human presence on the Moon through recurring services using lunar landers. He further added that “This critical step is basic foundation for US leadership in learning more about the Moon and for learning how to live and work in deep space for future missions farther into the solar system.”
The five companies NASA selected are the ones which have worked on delivering space-based technology earlier as well.
The Following list comprises of companies selected for the mission and the funds allotted to them to for developing the Moon-based lander concepts.
- Blue Origin: $25.6 million
- Dynetics: $40.8 million
- Lockheed Martin: $35.2 million
- Northrop Grumman: $34.8 million
- SpaceX: $9.4 million
These companies are required to develop lander design concepts, evaluate their performance, design, construction standards, mission assurance requirements, interfaces, safety, crew health accommodations, and medical capabilities. In its statement, NASA said that these companies will also mitigate lunar lander risks by conducting critical component tests and advancing the maturity of key technologies.
Lisa Watson-Morgan, Human Landing System Program manager said that “Collaborating with their partners is critical in order to achieve NASA’s long-term Artemis lunar exploration goals. By partnering with innovative US companies, they will foster a robust lunar economy while exploring new areas of the Moon for generations to come.
Blue Origin was awarded $25.6 million by NASA after Amazon dragged the US government to review its decision to award a $2.9 billion lunar lander contract to SpaceX. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) supported NASA over its decision to pick a single lunar lander provider, while rejecting Blue Origin’s protest and this is when the decision to sue the US government came. NASA is supposed to file a response to the lawsuit by October 12.
The $2.9 billion lunar lander contract has been temporarily suspended by NASA as Musk intervened in the lawsuit to ensure that the court will consider the case after having a complete and accurate picture of the facts and circumstances surrounding this protest, and also look upon the substantial harm his company SpaceX will suffer if the court grants the relief sought” by Blue Origin.
These ongoing matters can affect the timeline set for the Artemis mission that includes landing the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface, sending a suite of new science instruments and technology demonstrations to study the Moon, and establishing a long-term presence there.