Blue Origin Wins Artemis Lander Contract6th Jun 2023
US aerospace company, Blue Origin, has been awarded a $3.4 billion contract to develop and test their flagship Artemis lander, Blue Moon Human Landing System, that will take Artemis V explorers to the Lunar surface. In a press release, NASA said: ”adding another human landing system partner… will increase competition, reduce costs to taxpayers, support a regular cadence of lunar landings, further invest in the lunar economy, and help NASA achieve its goals on and around the Moon.”
The Blue Moon Human Landing System
Blue Origin’s Blue Moon Lander is poised to perform soft landings and is capable of delivering payloads and crew to the Lunar surface. The reusable lander will be developed, tested and verified to meet NASA’s ‘human landing system requirements for recurring astronaut expeditions to the lunar surface’. The contract also includes one uncrewed test mission to ensure the lander is ready for the crewed test mission scheduled for 2029.
Under the Artemis V mission, NASA will launch four astronauts – including the first female and person of colour – via the Orion Spacecraft into Lunar orbit. Orion will then dock the lunar space station, ‘Gateway’, with two astronauts then boarding Blue Moon, and descending via the Artemis lander onto the Moon’s south pole to complete a week-long expedition, exploring the lunar surface. This mission is set to pave the way for future crewed missions to Mars, with plans to use the Moon as a stepping stone to the Red Planet.
With the on-boarding of Blue Origin, NASA are hopeful that: “multiple providers will be available to compete for future opportunities to fulfil NASA’s lunar surface access needs for Artemis missions.” Previous contracts include SpaceX being tasked with delivering the human lander for the Artemis III and IV missions. The aim is to empower more agencies to compete for contracts so that the industry can continue to grow, make space exploration more cost-effective, and increase innovation.