NASA awarded a total of $ 146 million in contracts to five companies, including SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynetics, to develop lander concepts under the agency’s Artemis program.
The awards include $ 26.5 million to Blue Origin; $ 40.8 million to Dynetics; $ 35.2 million to Lockheed Martin; $ 34.8 million to Northrop Grumman; and $ 9.4 million to SpaceX. Only two companies that submitted proposals, Blue Ridge Nebula Starlines and Cook & Chevalier Enterprises, did not receive a contract.
The contracts were awarded under NextSTEP-2 (Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships) Annex N: Sustainable Human Landing System Studies and Risk Reduction. The call for tenders, published in early July, indicates that the objective of the contract is to “engage with potential business partners for concept studies, support the development of the concept of HLS operations (ground and air ) and risk reduction activities “.
In practice, this means that the selected companies will develop landing gear design concepts, including performing component tests, and evaluate them for things like performance and safety.
These awards are separate from the Human Landing System contract that was awarded to SpaceX earlier this year – the one that Blue Origin and Dynetics challenged at a government watchdog, and which Blue Origin later opposed in a lawsuit against NASA that is still ongoing.
However, the outcome of this bundle of rewards will likely inform future lander development contracts for the remainder of the decade. “The work of these companies will ultimately help shape the strategy and requirements for a future NASA solicitation to provide regular transport of astronauts from lunar orbit to the surface of the moon,” the agency said in a statement.
The Artemis program was created in 2020 with a number of goals, not only to bring humans back to the moon for the first time since the days of Apollo, but also to make these trips routine by the end of the ages. 2020s. NASA doesn’t just stop at the moon; the agency also wants to expand into interplanetary exploration, including human missions to Mars.