As America prepares for its next mission to the moon, NASA had chosen three companies to develop technology for its Human Landing System Program. On Friday, it announced that “SpaceX’s “Starship” design had won the $2.9 billion contract. SpaceX will build a lunar landing system to carry astronauts to the surface of the moon.
The moon lander will be built as a part of the Artemis program. NASA said that they would land the first woman and first person of color on the moon as a part of this program. They would use innovative technology to explore more of the surface of the moon than has ever been explored.
NASA also said that they would collaborate with commercial and international partners, for the first time, to explore sustainable elements that would allow their robots and astronauts to study the moon’s surface and conduct scientific experiments. They plan to use the information gained from their findings on and around the moon, to take the next giant leap forward and send astronauts to Mars.
NASA is planning to send four astronauts on the Orion spacecraft built by Lockheed Martin. The spacecraft will take a multi-day trip to the orbit of the moon. Two crew members will transfer to SpaceX’s lander and will descend on the moon.
The astronauts on the moon will explore the lunar surface and conduct experiments. They will board the SpaceX lander and return to the orbiting Orion. Orion will head back to the earth.
The Washington Post obtained a NASA document that said that SpaceX “was the lowest among the offers by a wide margin. The agency was also impressed by the Starship’s capacity “to carry large amounts of cargo to and from the moon.” This ability would potentially improve scientific operations.
Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Alabama defense contractor Dynetics were the other two shortlisted companies who lost out to SpaceX.
On Friday, Elon Musk tweeted, “We are honored to be part of the @NASAArtemis team.” He added that NASA rules.