NASA has selected teams led by Blue Origin, Dynetics and SpaceX to develop lunar landing systems capable of sending astronauts to the moon and back by as early as 2024. Boeing had proposed a lunar landing system but was not selected.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture, based in Kent, Wash., assembled a “national team” for its Blue Moon lunar landing system that includes Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper as partners. The concept makes use of elements from Lockheed Martin’s Orion capsule for the lander’s ascent module. Northrop Grumman will provide the in-space transfer module for the lander system, which can be launched on Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket or United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket.
Alabama-based Dynetics is developing a single-structure landing system that provides both ascent and descent capabilities, and would launch on ULA’s Vulcan. Dynetics’ team of 25 partners includes Sierra Nevada Corp., Draper and Thales Alenia Space Italy.
California-based SpaceX is offering its Starship super-spaceship, which would be launched atop the Super Heavy rocket. NASA says the total combined value for all awarded contracts is $967 million for a 10-month base period. Next year, NASA will assess the resulting concepts and select which landing systems will get further support for development and eventual use.
Check back for updates in this developing story.