Miami, US, Sep 14 (EFE).- NASA on Tuesday awarded contracts worth $146 million to five US aerospace companies, including Blue Origin, SpaceX and Dynetics, to work on several projects for the development of the Artemis program over the next 15 months to “enable a steady pace of crewed trips to the lunar surface.”
“These companies will make advancements toward sustainable human landing system concepts, conduct risk-reduction activities, and provide feedback on NASA’s requirements to cultivate industry capabilities for crewed lunar landing missions,” the US space agency said in a statement.
The agency awarded $40.8 million to Dynetics, $35.2 million to Lockheed Martin, $34.8 million to Northrop Grumman, $25.6 million to Blue Origin and $9.4 million to SpaceX.
The Artemis program seeks to enable “a safe and cost-efficient long-term approach to accessing the lunar surface and becoming one of multiple customers purchasing services in a lunar transportation market,” NASA said.
“Much of what the agency develops for the Moon will be applied to future exploration at Mars,” it added.
The agency’s Artemis missions include landing the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon’s surface, dispatching a suite of new scientific instruments, and technology demonstrations to study the satellite and establish a long-term presence there.
The companies will develop lander design concepts, evaluating their performance, design, construction standards, mission assurance requirements, interfaces, safety, crew health accommodations, and medical capabilities, according to NASA.
They will also mitigate lunar lander risks through testing of critical components and advancing the maturity of key technologies.
The work undertaken by these companies will ultimately help shape the strategy and requirements for a request by NASA in the future to provide regular transportation of astronauts from the lunar orbit to the Moon’s surface.
This collaboration “is critical to achieving NASA’s long-term Artemis lunar exploration goals,” Lisa Watson-Morgan, human landing system program manager, said.
“We will establish a robust lunar economy while exploring new areas of the Moon for generations to come” through this partnership, she added.
In August, NASA announced that it was pausing work for more than two months, until Nov. 1, on the Human Lander System (HLS) of the Artemis program, which aims to return astronauts to the lunar surface, following a lawsuit filed by Blue Origin against the space agency for awarding that contract to SpaceX.
In April, NASA awarded a $2.89 billion contract to Elon Musk’s SpaceX to take astronauts back to the Moon by 2024 over its competitors, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, and Dynetics. EFE