The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on April 30 announced the allocation of $ 967 million to three private American companies to further develop their lunar lander modules for the Artemis program. This was reported on the NASA website.
Recall, the Artemis project provides for the landing of American astronauts on the moon in 2024, as well as the creation of a station in orbit of the moon and a permanent base on its surface. NASA is actively involving private companies in the program, and now the agency has selected Blue Origin, SpaceX and Dynetics to develop landing modules for the NextSTEP-2 subprogram. During the first phase, which will last the next 10 months, companies will have to finalize their projects with the participation of NASA engineers.
Blue Origin introduced the Blue Moon landing module project about a year ago. The device is planned to be equipped with a BE-7 oxygen-hydrogen engine, and the company intends to use it to deliver both people and cargo to the moon.
SpaceX proposes to use its promising superheavy reusable rocket to deliver astronauts to the moon, including the Starship and the first Super Heavy stage. According to the company’s plan, Starship should start from Earth using the Super Heavy stage, and refueling for the flight to the Moon will be carried out from a tanker in low Earth orbit, writes N + 1.
Finally, Dynetics is developing a two-stage lunar landing system DHLS with two large fuel tanks, solar panels and a crew cabin located at the bottom of the structure (this scheme will allow astronauts to enter and exit faster).
A brief video review of the projects of all three companies was published on the NASA YouTube channel.
Recall that in late March, NASA chose SpaceX to deliver goods to the future Gateway near-moon orbital station. To carry out such missions, SpaceX will develop the new Dragon XL cargo spacecraft.
Initially, it was assumed that the station’s modules, the Orion manned spacecraft and other cargoes into the Moon’s orbit would be delivered by the SLS superheavy rocket, but due to the repeated delay of the first flight, NASA decided to hand over the delivery of cargo and modules to American private companies. The first Gateway supply contract was awarded to SpaceX, but the terms of the program suggest that NASA should choose at least one more American company to deliver goods.