NASA has awarded a combined $ 146 million contract to five companies, including SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynamics, to develop lender concepts as part of the agency’s Artemis program.
The award includes 26.5 million for Blue Origin; $ 40.8 million for dynamics; Lockheed Martin 35.2 million; $ 34.8 million to Northrop Grumman; And X 9.4 million to SpaceX. Only two companies that submitted proposals, Blue Ridge Nebula Starlines and Cook & Chevalier Enterprises, have not received contracts.
The contracts were awarded under NextStep-2 (Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnership). The request, issued in early July, says the agreement aims to “engage with potential business partners for concept studies, maintaining the HLS concept of operation (land and flight) development and risk reduction activities.”
In practice, this means that selected companies will develop lender design concepts, including component tests, and evaluate them for things like performance and safety.
The awards differ from the Human Landing System contract awarded to SpaceX earlier this year – one that both Blue Origin and Dynamics disputed with the government, and that Blue Origin later opposed in a lawsuit against NASA that is still ongoing.
However, the results of this batch of awards will inform future lender development contracts for the rest of the decade. “The work of these companies will ultimately help shape the strategy and requirements for providing regular astronaut transport from the future NASA lunar orbit to the lunar surface,” the agency said in a statement.
The Artemis program was established in 2020 with a number of objectives, not only to bring humans back to the moon for the first time since the days of Apollo, but to regularize such travel by the end of 2020. NASA doesn’t just hang on to the moon; The agency wants to expand inter-planet exploration, including human missions to Mars.