New Delhi: In some tough competition to Elon Musk-run SpaceX, the US space agency on Friday selected Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin to develop a human landing system for the agency’s Artemis V mission to the Moon. The NASA award is worth $3.4 billion, and Blue Origin said it’s contributing “well north” of that figure on its own. The Blue Origin-led effort is a more than $7 billion project.
Blue Origin’s national team partners include Lockheed Martin, Draper, Boeing, Astrobotic, and Honeybee Robotics.
“Honored to be on this journey with @NASA to land astronauts on the Moon a” this time to stay. Together, we’ll be solving the boil-off problem and making LOX-LH2 a storable propellant combination, pushing forward the state of the art for all deep space missions”, Bezos tweeted.
Blue Origin will design, develop, test, and verify its Blue Moon lander to meet NASA’s human landing system requirements for recurring astronaut expeditions to the lunar surface, including docking with Gateway, a space station where crew transfer in lunar orbit. In addition to design and development work, the contract includes one uncrewed demonstration mission to the lunar surface before a crewed demo on the Artemis V mission in 2029.
The total award value of the firm-fixed price contract is $3.4 billion.
“We are excited to announce Blue Origin will build a human landing system as NASA’s second provider to deliver Artemis astronauts to the lunar surface,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
The agency previously contracted Musk’s SpaceX to demonstrate an initial human landing system for the Artemis III mission. Under that contract, the agency also directed SpaceX to evolve its design to meet the agency’s requirements for sustainable exploration and to demonstrate the lander on Artemis IV. Through Artemis, NASA will explore more of the Moon than ever before, uncovering more scientific discoveries, and preparing for future astronaut missions to Mars.