SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Dynetics will compete to develop the next moon lander for NASA’s Artemis program, which will send humans back to the moon by 2024, the space agency announced Thursday.
The three American companies will develop their own solutions for a moon lander as part of nearly $1 billion in awarded contracts to be completed in a 10-month period.
“With these contract awards, America is moving forward with the final step needed to land astronauts on the moon by 2024, including the incredible moment when we will see the first woman set foot on the lunar surface,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “This is the first time since the Apollo era that NASA has direct funding for a human landing system, and now we have companies on contract to do the work for the Artemis program.”
NASA said the decision to use private spacecraft represents the partnerships between governments and corporations of the “world today.”
Blue Origin, owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, is developing the Integrated Lander Vehicle – a three-stage lander that would launch on its own New Glenn Rocket System and ULA Vulcan launch system.
“NASA’s Artemis program will be the next major milestone in the history of human space flight, and we’re honored to be a part of it,” said Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith in a statement. “Our National Team brings unparalleled heritage, passion, and innovation that will enable Americans to return to the lunar surface and inspire another generation. It’s time to go back to the moon, this time to stay.”
Elon Musk’s SpaceX is developing their Starship – a lander that will use the SpaceX Super Heavy rocket. A prototype Starship recently passed a cryo stress test.
Dynetics is working on their Dynetics Human Landing System – a “single structure providing the ascent and descent capabilities” that would launch on the ULA Vulcan system.
“We have much work ahead, especially over these next critical 10 months,” said Douglas Loverro, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate in Washington. “I have high confidence that working with these teammates, we will succeed.”
“We are fully committed to this endeavor and proud to join the team returning Americans to the moon,” said Roger Krone, chairman and CEO of Dynetics owner Leidos.
NASA’s Artemis project will have astronauts and scientists set up a base camp on the moon to conduct research and test space exploration systems “indefinitely.”