Top American aerospace firms SpaceX and Blue Origin have made it to the list of companies for developing designs for Moon lander. According to NASA, the two companies are among five that the agency has picked up. While SpaceX is owned by Elon Musk, Blue Origin is led by Jeff Bezos. Both the companies were at loggerheads ever since NASA awarded an Artemis mission program to SpaceX. Blue Origin had then filed a lawsuit against NASA’s decision to award SpaceX a contract to build a Human Landing System. According to NASA, the latest features five companies. Apart from SpaceX and Blue Origin, the remaining three are Dynetics, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman.
NASA said that it has awarded USD 146 million to the companies for the contracts. SpaceX has received USD 9.4 million from the space agency. Blue Origin has got USD 25.6 million. Dynetics has got USD 40.8 million from NASA. This is the highest award bagged by the company on the list. Lockheed Martin has received USD 35.2 million and Northrop Grumman has pocketed USD 34.8 million. These companies will work on concepts of lunar landers over the next 15 months. NASA will evaluate their performance before further advancing them. It will measure construction standards, health accommodations, safety, and others. The companies will conduct testing to lower risks and work towards making it mature.
NASA wants a long-term human presence on Moon. It is aiming at recurring services to meet the goal. Finding the right lander technology is a key aspect. The agency expects that its Artemis program will lay the foundation and provide a breakthrough in setting up a permanent base on Earth’s lone natural satellite. It will assist the agency in planning future human exploration missions of Moon, Mars, and space. The latest NASA awards are separate from the agency’s Human Landing System contract. The contract was awarded to SpaceX. But NASA suspended it till November after Blue Origin filed a lawsuit. It is currently pending before a government watchdog.