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SpaceX wins the $2.89B NASA contract for landing the next astronauts on Moon

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NASA has selected SpaceX to design and develop the next lunar lander spaceship or a human landing system (HLS) that will land not just the first woman on the Moon and a person of color as well. Two American astronauts will be sent on this lunar landing mission, code-named the Artemis program by NASA.

“The firm-fixed-price, milestone-based contract total award value is $2.89 billion,” NASA stated in a press release yesterday.

Three competitors were pursuing this historic and auspicious contract from NASA. Dynetics and Blue Origin were the other two companies besides SpaceX who were trying hard to bag this lunar lander contract.

All three of these companies presented the complete design mockups of their version of the proposed lunar landers.

Lunar lander design concept for NASA Artemis program by Dynetics. Credits: NASA / Dynetics / Leidos.
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Lunar Lander design mockup for NASA Artemis programby Blue Origin. Credits: NASA / Blue Origin.

Although Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin had three other giant engineering & aeronautics partners to develop this design — Lockheed Martin, Draper, and Northrop Grumman — it lost the bid to Elon Musk‘s SpaceX.

“We’ve been working for the last year, with three partners who would help us achieve the next human mission to the Moon. As we know that this first step to the Moon will lead us to go to Mars. And we know that a human landing system is one of the first steps to get us there,” Program Manager of NASA’s Human Landing System (HLS) Lisa Watson-Morgan said in a video announcement of the winning bid by SpaceX (watch below).

SpaceX has been working closely with NASA experts during the HLS base period of performance to inform its lander design and ensure it meets NASA’s performance requirements and human spaceflight standards. A key tenet for safe systems, these agreed-upon standards range from areas of engineering, safety, health, and medical technical areas.

Source: NASA press release
Illustration of SpaceX Starship human lander design that will carry the first NASA astronauts to the surface of the Moon under the Artemis program. Credits: SpaceX.

The design mockup by SpaceX is based on the Starship design philosophy which won the multi-billion dollar bid.

The SpaceX HLS design seems superior only by the looks of it and if NASA has selected it to send humans to Moon after 50 years, it must be more than good enough. This SpaceX lunar lander (mockup in the above picture) seems huge and might bring back the largest samples from the Moon back to Earth.

The agency’s powerful Space Launch System rocket will launch four astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft for their multi-day journey to lunar orbit. There, two crew members will transfer to the SpaceX human landing system (HLS) for the final leg of their journey to the surface of the Moon. After approximately a week exploring the surface, they will board the lander for their short trip back to orbit where they will return to Orion and their colleagues before heading back to Earth.

NASA press release

The success of this lunar lander ship on the Moon will certainly be a great milestone towards the next big mission of Mars, Elon Musk’s wildest dream.

I’d like to die on Mars, just not on impact!

Elon Musk

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By Iqtidar Ali

Iqtidar has been writing about Tesla, Elon Musk, and EVs for more than 3 years on XAutoWorld.com, many of his articles have been republished on CleanTechnica and InsideEVs, maintains a healthy relationship with the Tesla community across the Social Media sphere. You can reach him on Twitter @IqtidarAlii