- NASA selected SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Dynetics to develop lunar landing systems that will allow astronauts to travel to the Moon as part of the Artemis program.
- The companies will have until early 2021 to develop their systems before NASA evaluates them for their readiness.
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NASA wants to get humans back on the Moon by 2024. It’s an incredibly ambitious goal and there’s plenty of skepticism in the scientific community and abroad that the space agency can actually pull it off. If NASA has any hope of achieving the incredible milestone it’s going to need a lot of help from commercial partners. To that end, the space agency just announced a trio of new deals with US companies to help get astronaut boots on lunar soil.
The three companies SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Dynetics. Now, you may not have heard of Dynetics before, but the other two companies are practically household names at this point. In a new news release, NASA describes what each company will be doing to help make the goal of crewed missions to the Moon a reality once more.
Here’s the breakdown:
- Blue Origin of Kent, Washington, is developing the Integrated Lander Vehicle (ILV) – a three-stage lander to be launched on its own New Glenn Rocket System and ULA Vulcan launch system.
- Dynetics (a Leidos company) of Huntsville, Alabama, is developing the Dynetics Human Landing System (DHLS) – a single structure providing the ascent and descent capabilities that will launch on the ULA Vulcan launch system.
- SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, is developing the Starship – a fully integrated lander that will use the SpaceX Super Heavy rocket.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Blue Origin, a pet project of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, have been competitors for a while. SpaceX is obviously much farther along in its journey toward a sustainable business model, while Blue Origin is still working out some of its kinks. In any case, both companies will now be tasked with aiding NASA and delivering humans to the Moon for the first time in decades.
“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,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement. “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.”
Going forward, the contractors will “refine their lander concepts,” and will have until February of next year to do that. NASA will then evaluate the companies and determine which systems are likely to be ready in time to meet the 2024 deadline.