Blue Origin wins NASA lunar mission deal in $3.4 billion, to build lander for Artemis V

1 year ago

NASA has selected Blue Origin, a space company founded by Jeff Bezos to develop a human landing system for the agency’s Artemis V mission to the Moon. The Blue Origin-led effort is effectively a more than $7 billion project, with NASA’s contract award worth just over $3.4 billion. Blue Origin’s National Team partners include Lockheed Martin, Draper, Boeing, Astrobotic, and Honeybee Robotics.

The Artemis V mission is slated to take off as soon as 2028 and would be the third in a series of missions under NASA’s lunar program that aims to land humans on the Moon. Blue Origin’s reusable lander, called “Blue Moon,” will deliver astronauts to the lunar surface for the Artemis V mission, which is scheduled for no earlier than 2029. The company plans to practice landing on the Moon without a crew before the actual mission.

Blue Origin joins SpaceX and its Starship vehicle as the only other company selected to develop spacecraft to carry Artemis astronauts to the surface of the Moon in an effort that NASA calls “Sustaining Lunar Development”. After Artemis V, NASA will be able to choose between the SpaceX and Blue Origin designs for later missions.

The Blue Origin-led team beat a second team led by Dynetics, a defense company based in Huntsville, Alabama. Blue Origin’s architecture also prepares for the future day when lunar ice can be used to manufacture LOX (liquid oxygen) and LH2 (liquid hydrogen) propellants on the Moon. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson emphasized the importance of establishing permanence on the Moon and ensuring consistent access to it. Blue Origin is contributing well over 50% of the total effort to achieve not only the Artemis V mission but also to ensure permanence on the Moon.

The Artemis program, which follows the 1960s and 1970s Apollo Moonshots, kicked off with a successful test flight late last year. The program aims to conduct science and exploration activities on the Moon.

Shruti Jain

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