The US space agency has said that Tech billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin feature in the list of five US companies NASA selected for making Moon lander designs.
NASA has awarded a total of $146 million for the contracts under the agency’s Artemis program, it said in a statement. Blue Origin Federation received a value of $25.6 million, while SpaceX got $9.4 million.
The highest award value of $40.8 million, bagged by Dynetics, a Leidos company, followed by Lockheed Martin at $35.2 million, and Northrop Grumman at $34.8 million.
Over the next 15 months, the selected companies will develop lander design concepts, evaluating their performance, design, construction standards, mission assurance requirements, interfaces, safety, crew health accommodations, and medical capabilities. The companies will also mitigate lunar lander risks by conducting critical component tests and advancing the maturity of key technologies.
“Establishing a long-term human presence on the Moon through recurring services using lunar landers is a major Artemis goal,” said Kathy Lueders, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at Headquarters in Washington, in the statement.
“This critical step lays the foundation for US leadership in learning more about the Moon and for learning how to live and work in deep space for future missions farther into the solar system,” Lueders added.
These awards are separate from the Human Landing System contract that was given to SpaceX earlier this year — which continues to be under dispute to a government watchdog.
NASA’s Artemis missions include landing the first woman and first person of colour on the lunar surface, sending a suite of new science instruments and technology demonstrations to study the Moon, and establishing a long-term presence there.