NASA taps 11 U.S. companies to advance human lunar landers

NASA has selected 11 companies to conduct studies and produce prototypes of human landers for its Artemis lunar exploration program to return Americans to the moon by 2024

May 17th, 2019
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NASA

WASHINGTON - NASA has selected 11 companies to conduct studies and produce prototypes of human landers for its Artemis lunar exploration program. This effort will help put American astronauts — the first woman and next man — on the Moon's south pole by 2024 and establish sustainable missions by 2028.

"To accelerate our return to the Moon, we are challenging our traditional ways of doing business. We will streamline everything from procurement to partnerships to hardware development and even operations," said Marshall Smith, director for human lunar exploration programs at NASA Headquarters. "Our team is excited to get back to the Moon quickly as possible, and our public/private partnerships to study human landing systems are an important step in that process."

Through Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) Appendix E contracts, the selected companies will study and/or develop prototypes during the next six months that reduce schedule risk for the descent, transfer, and refueling elements of a potential human landing system.

NASA's proposed plan is to transport astronauts in a human landing system that includes a transfer element for the journey from the lunar Gateway to low-lunar orbit, a descent element to carry them to the surface, and an ascent element to return to them to the Gateway. The agency also is looking at refueling capabilities to make these systems reusable.

The total award amount for all companies is $45.5 million. As NextSTEP is a public/private partnership program, companies are required to contribute at least 20% of the total project cost. This partnership will reduce costs to taxpayers and encourage early private investments in the lunar economy.

The awardees, from eight states across the country, are: Aerojet Rocketdyne – Canoga Park, California; Blue Origin – Kent, Washington; Boeing – Houston; Dynetics – Huntsville, Alabama; Lockheed Martin – Littleton, Colorado; Masten Space Systems – Mojave, California; Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems – Dulles, Virginia; OrbitBeyond – Edison, New Jersey; Sierra Nevada Corporation, Louisville, Colorado, and Madison, Wisconsin; SpaceX – Hawthorne, California; and SSL – Palo Alto, California

To expedite the work, NASA is invoking undefinitized contract actions, which allow the agency to authorize partners to start a portion of the work, while negotiations toward contract award continue in parallel. To learn more, please visit https://www.nasa.gov/moontomars.

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