Elon Musk’s SpaceX wins $2.89 billion moon lander contract, says NASA

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on April 17, 2021

SpaceX was competing against Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origi

The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration has awarded a $2.89 billion contract to SpaceX for building a spacecraft to land astronauts on the moon as soon as 2024 under the Artemis program.

“NASA is getting ready to send astronauts to explore more of the Moon as part of the Artemis program, and the agency has selected SpaceX to continue development of the first commercial human lander that will safely carry the next two American astronauts to the lunar surface,” the US Space agency said in an official release.

The firm-fixed-price, milestone-based contract total award value is $2.89 billion, it said.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX was competing against Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin founded in partnership with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper and Dynetics.

“SpaceX has been working closely with NASA experts during the HLS base period of performance to inform its lander design and ensure it meets NASA’s performance requirements and human spaceflight standards. A key tenet for safe systems, these agreed-upon standards range from areas of engineering, safety, health, and medical technical areas,” NASA said.

NASA had detailed its plans for the Artemis program last year. It plans to land the first woman and the next man on the surface of the Moon in 2024.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine had said in September last year, We’re going back to the Moon for scientific discovery, economic benefits, and inspiration for a new generation of explorers. As we build up a sustainable presence, we’re also building momentum toward those first human steps on the Red Planet.”

The mission will explore the lunar South Pole. The estimated cost of this mission deadline is $28 billion as per the report.

Out of this budget, $16 billion will be spent on building a lunar landing module.

NASA plans to land two astronauts on the moon.

“At least one of those astronauts will make history as the first woman on the Moon. Another goal of the Artemis program includes landing the first person of colour on the lunar surface,” the agency said.

NASA’s Space Launch System rocket “will launch four astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft for their multi-day journey to lunar orbit. There, two crew members will transfer to the SpaceX human landing system (HLS) for the final leg of their journey to the surface of the Moon. After approximately a week exploring the surface, they will board the lander for their short trip back to orbit where they will return to Orion and their colleagues before heading back to Earth,” it further explained.

“NASA Rules!!” tweeted Musk soon after the agency announced the news. “We are honored to be part of the @NASAArtemis team,” he added.

Published on April 17, 2021

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