NASA has awarded a combined $146 million in contracts to five companies, including SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynetics, to develop lander concepts as part of the agency’s Artemis program.
Prizes include $26.5 million for Blue Origin; $40.8 million to Dianetics; $35.2 million to Lockheed Martin; $34.8 million to Northrop Grumman; and $9.4 million to SpaceX. The only two companies that submitted proposals, Blue Ridge Nebula Starlines and Cook & Chevalier Enterprises, did not receive the contract.
The contracts were awarded under NEXTSTEP-2 (Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnership) Appendix N: Sustainable Human Landing System Studies and Risk Reduction. The solicitation, issued in early July, said the purpose of the contract is to “connect with potential commercial partners for concept studies, maintaining the HLS concept of operations (ground and flight) development and risk reduction activities.” “
What this means in practice is that selected companies will develop lander design concepts, including conducting component tests, and evaluate them for things like performance and safety.
These awards are separate from the Human Landing Systems contract that was awarded to SpaceX earlier this year — one that both Blue Origin and Dynetics disputed for a government watchdog, and Blue Origin later filed in a lawsuit against NASA. protest which is still going on.
However, the results of this batch of awards will potentially inform future lander development contracts during the rest of the decade. “The work of these companies will help shape the strategy and requirements for future NASA solicitations to provide routine astronaut transportation from lunar orbit to the surface of the Moon,” the agency said in a statement.
The Artemis program was established in 2020 with several objectives, not only to return humans to the Moon for the first time since the days of Apollo but to regularize such travel by the end of 2020. NASA isn’t just stopping at the moon; The agency also wants to expand into inter-planetary exploration, including manned missions to Mars.