NASA has awarded $ 146 million to five aerospace companies, including SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynetics, to develop lunar lander concepts for future missions under its Artemis program.
The award was $ 9.4 million for SpaceX, $ 25.6 million for Blue Origin, $ 34.8 million for Northrop Grumman, $ 35.2 million for Lockheed Martin and $ 40.8 million for Dynetics.
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Fixed price, milestone based contracts are offered under this NextSTEP-2 (Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnership) Appendix N: Sustainable Human Landing System Studies and Risk Reduction Request for work to be done in the next 15 months.
Upon request, five companies develop lander design concepts and evaluate their performance, design, build standards, mission assurance requirements, interfaces, safety, personnel health facilities, and medical capabilities. In addition, they mitigate lunar lander risks by “conducting critical component tests and advancing the maturity of key technologies.”
“A major Artemis mission is to establish a long-term human presence on the Moon through intermittent services using Lunar Landers,” said Kathy Luders, NASA Assistant Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Statement. “This critical step will lay the foundation for US leadership to learn more about the moon and how to live and work in the deep space for the next missions of the solar system.”
The Appendix N deal is separate from the $ 2.9 billion Appendix H Collection, which was awarded to SpaceX’s renewable Starship spacecraft in April, which is now at the center of a lawsuit with Blue Origin.
The lawsuit was filed following protests by Blue Origin and Dynetics, which accused NASA of giving spaceX the preferential treatment in the human landing system selection process, which the Government Accountability Office denied in July. The agency ruled that the protest failed to establish “any reasonable possibility of competitive prejudice.”
In addition to the lawsuit, Blue Origin distributed an infographic on social media attacking the potential of Starship, prompting a verbal battle with SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk. Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos went on to pay $ 2 billion in NASA costs in exchange for a second HLS contract.
Although NASA’s Artemis program is aimed at sending astronauts to the moon by 2024, Report of the Inspector General of the Agency in August The timeline has been determined to be “no longer viable” due to several factors including flight-ready space suite, space launch system rocket, Orion capsule and Lunar Lander development delay. According to the watchdog, spaceSuits are not expected to fly until April 2025.
NASA confirmed in August that the work of the human landing system would be temporarily suspended after the parties agreed to settle the dispute with Blue Origin by November 1.
“NASA is committed to preserving Artemis and the nation’s global leadership in space exploration,” agency officials wrote in a statement. “With our partners, we are going to the moon and creating high paying jobs to enable science investigations, to develop new technology and to send astronauts to higher profits and to Mars.”