SpaceX Won NASA’s $2.9 Billion Contract To Build Spacecraft To Land Astronauts On The Moon
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On Friday, April 16, 2021, NASA announced that SpaceX is awarded the $2.9 billion contract to build a spacecraft to bring astronauts to the moon as early as 2024, picking SpaceX over Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Dynetics, a defense contractor based in Huntsville, Alabama. NASA originally chose all three companies for the initial phase of the contract, and was expected to choose two of them to build the lunar lander. In other major programs, NASA has chosen multiple providers to foster competition and to ensure it has redundancy in case on cannot deliver. But according to the NASA document obtained by The Washington Post, “NASA’s current fiscal year budget did not support even a single contract award.” As a result, SpaceX updated its payment schedule to fit “within NASA’s current budget.” In choosing SpaceX alone means that NASA fully trusts SpaceX to fly its astronauts for its signature human exploration program, Artemis, to return astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972.
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 agency’s powerful 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, in the video published on April 16, 2021, “NASA Picks SpaceX for Artemis Human Lunar Lander Development“, below:
To learn more about the Artemis program, please refer to the excerpt from wikipedia, in italics, below:
The Artemis program is a U.S. government-funded international human spaceflight program that has the goal of landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon, specifically at the lunar south pole region, by 2024. The program is carried out predominantly by NASA, U.S. commercial spaceflight companies contracted by NASA, and international partners including the European Space Agency (ESA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the Italian Space Agency (ASI), the Australian Space Agency (ASA), the UK Space Agency (UKSA), the United Arab Emirates Space Agency (UAESA), the State Space Agency of Ukraine, and the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB). NASA is leading the program, but expects international partnerships to play a key role. Long-term goals include establishing an expedition team and a sustainable presence on the Moon, laying the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy, and eventually sending humans to Mars.
In December 2017, President Donald Trump signed Space Policy Directive 1, authorizing the lunar campaign. Artemis draws upon ongoing spacecraft programs including Orion, the Gateway, and Commercial Lunar Payload Services, and adds an undeveloped crewed lander. The Space Launch System will serve as the primary launch vehicle for Orion, while commercial launch vehicles are planned for use to launch various other elements of the campaign. NASA requested US$1.6 billion in additional funding for Artemis for fiscal year 2020, while the Senate Appropriations Committee requested from NASA a five-year budget profile which is needed for evaluation and approval by Congress. In February 2021, the Biden Administration endorsed the Artemis program.
Many people were surprised yesterday when news leaked that NASA was awarding all the funding from the Artemis Human Landing System program to SpaceX with its massive Lunar Starship project. SpaceX’s price tag is about $2.9 billion with a commitment to fund half of it themselves. While most space watchers could see why SpaceX had made it to the final round most of us didn’t expect it to be the only choice because it was so unlike what NASA was asking for. However the HLS program only got 1/3 of the money it needed from Congress and with time marching on NASA had to make a decision and the only option with a price tag that fit was SpaceX, in the video published on April 17, 2021, “NASA Will Spend $2,941,394,557 On SpaceX’s Massive Lunar Starship Lander!!!” below:
NASA announced on April 16th, 2021 that they will be using SpaceX’s Lunar Starship to bring astronauts back to the lunar surface. Learn more technical details here, in the video published on April 17, 2021, “NASA Selects Starship for Historic Artemis Mission“, below:
In the video published on April 17, 2021, “SpaceX wins a multi-billion dollar NASA moon lander contract!“, below:
Gathered, written, and posted by Windermere Sun-Susan Sun Nunamaker More about the community at www.WindermereSun.com
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