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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

After SpaceX, NASA faucets Bezos’s Blue Origin to construct Moon lander

Illustration released by the Blue Origin of its lander, baptized Blue Moon, which has been selected by NASA for the Artemis 5 lu
Illustration launched by the Blue Origin of its lander, baptized Blue Moon, which has been chosen by NASA for the Artemis 5 lunar mission.

Two years after awarding Elon Musk’s SpaceX a contract to ferry astronauts to the floor of the Moon, NASA on Friday introduced it had chosen Blue Origin, a rival area firm based by billionaire Jeff Bezos, to construct a second lunar lander.

Blue Origin’s lander was chosen for the Artemis 5 mission, presently scheduled to happen in 2029. The corporate will first should display it may well safely land on the Moon with out a crew.

Bezos, the founder and former CEO of Amazon, mentioned on Twitter he was “honored to be on this journey with @NASA to land astronauts on the Moon—this time to remain.”

The contract quantities to $3.4 billion, however John Couluris, vice-president in command of lunar transport at Blue Origin, mentioned throughout a press convention that the corporate would itself contribute “nicely north” of that quantity to develop the craft.

The Artemis program marks NASA’s return to the Moon after greater than 50 years and is made up of a number of missions, every with rising complexity.

In 2021, the US company selected SpaceX to construct a lander for Artemis 3, the primary mission within the collection to have precise astronauts set foot on the lunar floor.

The contract was value $2.9 billion, though SpaceX is supplementing that quantity with its personal funding.

Blue Origin had additionally competed for the primary contract, and filed an unsuccessful lawsuit towards NASA when SpaceX was chosen as the only lander supplier.

The area company had initially meant to supply two contracts, a follow generally used to protect towards the chance one fails, however mentioned it had been constrained by price range issues.

NASA in 2022 additionally selected the SpaceX lander for its Artemis 4 mission, however on the identical time requested submissions from different corporations for the remainder of this system.

“We would like extra competitors. We would like two landers,” NASA boss Invoice Nelson mentioned on Friday. “It means that you’ve got reliability. You have got backups.”

Blue Origin’s lander, dubbed Blue Moon, is being developed with a number of associate corporations, together with Draper, Boeing, Astrobotic, Honeybee Robotics, and Lockheed Martin.

The latter will likely be liable for creating an important factor. As soon as in lunar orbit, Blue Moon will should be refueled earlier than it may well descend and acquire the astronauts from the floor of the Moon.

Subsequently Lockheed Martin has to develop a type of shuttle to refuel Blue Moon across the Moon.

Blue Origin plans to make use of its New Glenn rocket, which has by no means flown earlier than, to launch each its lander and this refueling shuttle.

Artemis 4, scheduled for 2028, and Artemis 5 a 12 months later will each land on the Moon, however will first move by way of a brand new area station in lunar orbit, known as Gateway, which has but to be constructed.

Prelude to Mars

Artemis astronauts will take off aboard NASA’s Orion capsule, propelled to the Moon by the company’s new SLS mega-rocket.

Each these components had been examined uncrewed when Artemis 1 befell six months in the past, and will likely be examined with crew throughout Artemis 2.

For Artemis 3, Orion will dock on to SpaceX’s lander. Two astronauts will then descend on the Moon for a couple of week, whereas two others will stay on board Orion.

As soon as their experiments are over, the 2 adventurers will return within the lander to Orion, which is able to carry the 4 crew members again to Earth.

Afterwards, Orion will connect to the Gateway area station, and the astronauts will move by way of it earlier than boarding the SpaceX lander, for Artemis 4, or Blue Origin for Artemis 5.

All of those missions goal the south pole of the Moon, the place there’s water within the type of ice.

SpaceX’s lander will likely be a modified model of its Starship spacecraft, presently below improvement in Texas. It exploded in flight throughout a primary main take a look at in April.

The purpose of the Artemis program is to study to dwell on the Moon, with the intention to take a look at out all of the applied sciences obligatory for an much more perilous journey: to Mars.

© 2023 AFP

After SpaceX, NASA faucets Bezos’s Blue Origin to construct Moon lander (2023, Could 20)
retrieved 20 Could 2023

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