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NASA Looking for Proposals for Second Artemis Lunar Lander

An image of an artist's illustration of an astronaut stepping from a Moon lander onto the lunar surface

An artist’s illustration of an astronaut stepping off a Moon lander and onto the lunar floor as a part of an upcoming Artemis mission.
Illustration: NASA

NASA, via its upcoming Artemis program, is planning to make frequent journeys to the lunar floor, requiring a number of Moon lander choices. The area company is now reaching out to U.S. corporations for potential options.

NASA has formally put out the call for Moon lander proposals, because it seeks a second human touchdown system for the Artemis period. The area company expressed its want for a second possibility earlier this 12 months, however the just lately introduced name for proposals incorporates business suggestions on a draft solicitation issued in March. SpaceX is presently engaged on a Moon lander for the Artemis 3 mission, presently scheduled to occur no sooner than 2025, whereas the second lunar lander could be used on subsequent crewed Artemis missions to the floor.

Solely U.S. corporations are eligible, and their proposed landers have to ship astronauts from lunar orbit to the floor of the Moon. The chosen firm must carry out an uncrewed touchdown on the Moon adopted by a crewed touchdown no sooner than the Artemis 5 mission scheduled for someday within the late 2020s. The profitable firm will then be capable to compete for future contracts as a part of the Artemis program’s later missions. 

NASA, via its Artemis program, is searching for to take care of a sustainable presence of people on the Moon, by which astronauts can shuttle to the lunar floor and keep there for longer intervals of time. The area company is presently making ready to launch the inaugural Artemis 1 mission, by which an uncrewed Orion capsule will journey across the Moon and again. Artemis 2 could be a repeat however with an precise crew, whereas Artemis 3 would see the primary people on the lunar floor because the Apollo period.

In April 2021, NASA awarded SpaceX a contract to develop the primary lunar lander for the Artemis 3 mission. Elon Musk’s personal area enterprise beat out Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Alabama-based Dynetics for the $2.89 billion settlement. SpaceX intends to make use of its upcoming Starship, a fully-reusable, super-heavy-lift launch automobile that’s presently beneath growth, for the Artemis 3 lunar touchdown.

Nonetheless, a 12 months after awarding SpaceX the human touchdown system contract, NASA introduced that it was seeking a second lunar lander. The area company desires a lander that, along with delivering astronauts to the floor, is able to docking with Lunar Gateway, a deliberate orbital outpost. It should additionally enable for crew transfers, an expanded crew, and added cupboard space for Moon-bound cargo. “I promised competitors, so right here it’s,” Invoice Nelson, NASA administrator, mentioned on the time. “Competitors results in higher, extra dependable outcomes.”

NASA’s contract with SpaceX has an “possibility B” which might ask the corporate “to evolve its present” Artemis 3 Starship design to fulfill an “prolonged set of necessities for sustaining missions on the Moon and conduct one other crewed demonstration touchdown,” the area company wrote. SpaceX will then be eligible to compete for future contracts as nicely.

“Work performed beneath this solicitation, along with present lander growth and research going down, will assist construct the inspiration for long-term deep area exploration,” Lisa Watson-Morgan, program supervisor for the Human Touchdown System Program at NASA’s Marshall Area Flight Heart, mentioned in a press release. “Partnering with American corporations to do this work now permits us to leverage NASA’s information and experience to encourage technological improvements for a sustained presence on the Moon.”

Proposals for the Moon lander are due on November 15. We’re absolutely anticipating Blue Origin to submit a proposal, however at a previously stated price of $5.99 billion, NASA could need to balk. The area company could do the identical ought to Dynetics resubmit its proposal, which carried a price ticket between $8.5 to $9.5 billion. NASA went with SpaceX as a consequence of budgetary contraints, and there’s no cause to suspect it gained’t do the identical for this second lander.

Extra: NASA Has a New Target Date to Launch SLS Megarocket

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