Blue Origin and SpaceX Fight to Build NASA's Moon Lander with 9 Others

NASA looking for the lunar lander for the 2024 mission 1 photo
Photo: NASA
The ink has not yet dried on the NASA amended budget request for the fiscal year 2020, but the agency has already set in motion the wheels that will eventually lead to a new Moon landing in 2024.
With a variety of options at its disposal to launch humans toward the Moon, NASA's primary concern is having a human lander ready in time for the mission five years from now. As already stated, the agency will not develop its own lander, but will buy it from private companies.

NASA has $1 billion saved for the human lunar landing system, money which it plans to use to buy a working machine of this type from commercial partners.

“To accelerate our return to the Moon, we are challenging our traditional ways of doing business. We will streamline everything from procurement to partnerships to hardware development and even operations,” said Marshall Smith, NASA's director of human lunar exploration.

“Our team is excited to get back to the Moon quickly as possible, and our public/private partnerships to study human landing systems are an important step in that process.”

On Thursday, NASA announced the names of the companies that are now in the race to come up with the best solution. There are 11 companies in total, fighting to put $45.5 million of NASA's NextSTEP money to good use and come up with the best lander study.

The list opens with space exploration behemoths like Aerojet Rocketdyne, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Boeing, but also includes smaller companies, like Dynetics, Masten Space Systems or OrbitBeyond.

The two superstars of the modern space race, SpaceX and Blue Origin, are also in the cards. Elon Musk's company is researching a descent element for the lander, while Jeff Bezos' a descent element and two transfer vehicles.

Despite being a tad behind SpaceX when it comes to commercial rocket launches, Blue Origin just unveiled a lander prototype, the Blue Moon.

A formal solicitation for building the lander will be made by NASA later this summer.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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