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HomeSportsBlue Origin wins $3.4 billion NASA moon lander contract

Blue Origin wins $3.4 billion NASA moon lander contract


By William Harwood

/ CBS Information

Blue Origin, the rocket firm owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has gained a $3.4 billion NASA contract to originate an Artemis lunar lander that may current a downstream change to the Starship variant already being developed by SpaceX, the company introduced Friday.

“We’ll the Moon! Honored to be on this sure with @nasa to land astronauts on the Moon – this time to protect,” Bezos talked about in an Instagram submit.

John Couluris, Blue Origin vp for lunar transportation, talked in regards to the company expects to chip in “successfully north” of the contract worth to totally make its “Blue Moon” lander, pushing the entire value of the enterprise to round $7 billion. The primary piloted touchdown, part of the fifth Artemis mission, is anticipated within the 2029 timeframe.

“On behalf of Blue Origin and the nationwide crew, I wish to thank NASA for my fragment,” talked about Couluris. “We’re very honored and humbled to be part of this unimaginable expertise. We’re taking a admire ahead to collaborating on Artemis 5, and we’re taking a admire ahead to working collectively.”

Blue Origin’s nationwide crew entails Lockheed Martin, that may current a refueling and servicing spacecraft; Boeing, that may current docking experience; Draper, supplying steerage, navigation and simulator experience; Astrobotic Expertise, with experience in payload lodging; and Honeybee Robotics to cope with cargo transport packages.

The contract requires Blue Origin to fly an unpiloted costume-rehearsal touchdown outdated to astronauts drift aboard and tumble to the lunar floor eventually of the Artemis 5 mission. That flight will educate the preliminary Artemis 3 moon touchdown, using SpaceX’s lander, within the 2025-26 timeframe.

“We want extra competitors,” talked about NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “We want two landers. That is higher. It method that that you just simply should moreover grasp acquired reliability, you may moreover grasp acquired backups. It benefits NASA. It benefits the American of us. … It helps NASA piece the prospect, the technical likelihood, and the monetary likelihood to allow, on the reside of the day, mission success.”

An artist’s affect of Blue Origin’s Artemis lander on the pores and skin of the moon close to the lunar south pole. The Blue Moon lander can carry 4 astronauts to and from the pores and skin, allowing stays as much as 30 days prolonged.

Blue Origin

The contract award caps a prolonged, every occasionally contentious struggle by Blue Origin to be half of the Artemis program. The company and yet another crew misplaced out to SpaceX in 2021 when NASA awarded Elon Musk’s firm a $2.9 billion contract to originate a variant of its Starship rocket for the preliminary Artemis 3 moon touchdown.

Blue Origin protested the long-established award, delaying work on the Starship lander, nevertheless the company’s efforts had been unsuccessful. Remaining November, SpaceX gained an additional $1.1 billion to make an upgraded mannequin of its lander, one in a position to longer stays to assist “sustained” exploration. It isn’t however certain when that variant might nicely presumably moreover fly.

The totally reusable Blue Moon lander will stand about 52 toes extensive, changing into eventually of the 23-foot-extensive nostril cone of Blue Origin’s Latest Glenn rocket. The spacecraft’s crew compartment, in a position to supporting 4 astronauts for as much as 30 days, will sit atop 4 touchdown legs and rocket motors. A speedy stairway will current snappily get right of entry to to the pores and skin.

A squat liquid oxygen tank and better hydrogen tank shall be positioned atop the crew cabin, alongside with radiator panels and {photograph} voltaic arrays. A port on the aspect of the crew compartment will allow rovers to dock with the lander, allowing astronauts to change from one car to at least one extra with out having to first conducting launch air.

The Blue Moon construction requires a Latest Glenn rocket to launch the lander into the elliptical “close to rectilinear halo orbit,” or NRHO, that NASA is using for its deliberate Gateway lunar recount construct.

Lockheed Martin’s “cis-lunar transporter” spacecraft will carry propellants from low-Earth orbit to the moon the place this may hyperlink up with the Blue Moon lander within the NRHO, fueling it for its eventual descent to the pores and skin.

The lander will dock on the Gateway construct the place 4 Artemis astronauts, launched aboard an Orion tablet by NASA’s Dwelling Launch System rocket, shall be ready. From there, the Blue Moon will carry the crew to the lunar floor, bringing them assist as much as Gateway and Orion after a protect of as much as 30 days.

SpaceX is rising a variant of its Starship spacecraft, seen proper right here in an artist’s rendering, for NASA’s preliminary Artemis moon landings.


The NASA contract requires an unpiloted costume rehearsal descent from Gateway and touchdown close to the south pole outdated to astronauts drift aboard eventually of the Artemis 5 mission for the primary piloted touchdown. Nonetheless Blue Origin plans a pair of take a look at flights prior to the rehearsal using a lot much less succesful variations of the lander to check express packages.

The Blue Moon might nicely presumably moreover be configured in two variations.

“The primary is a crew configuration that shall be in a sequence to land 4 astronauts wherever on the pores and skin of the moon, day or night,” Couluris talked about. “Which might be the primary mission that we fly as part of Artemis 5.

“This car moreover might nicely presumably moreover be configured for a cargo touchdown mission in a sequence to hold as much as twenty metric tons in a spherical outing … or 30 metric tons to the pores and skin to originate the inspiration of habitats and utterly totally different eternal infrastructure.”

In between floor sorties, the lander can merely reside within the close to rectilinear halo orbit at or close to Gateway whereas anticipating educate-on missions. Bezos and Couluris talked about Blue Origin is already engaged on utilized sciences enabling lengthy-time period storage of the ultracold liquid oxygen and hydrogen propellants.

Having two simply landers from utterly totally different suppliers, NASA talked about in an announcement, “will develop competitors, slash costs to taxpayers, assist a traditional cadence of lunar landings, extra spend money on the lunar financial system and assist NASA reside its goals on and throughout the moon in preparation for future astronaut missions to Mars.”

William Harwood


Bill Harwood has been conserving the U.S. recount program plump-time since 1984, first as Cape Canaveral bureau chief for United Press Worldwide and now as a specialist for CBS Information. He coated 129 recount shuttle missions, every interplanetary flight since Voyager 2’s flyby of Neptune and scores of enterprise and navy launches. Primarily based totally principally on the Kennedy Dwelling Middle in Florida, Harwood is a correct beginner astronomer and co-creator of “Comm Verify: The Remaining Flight of Shuttle Columbia.”


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