Blue Origin announces a blue-chip team to return humans to the Moon

Rodiano Bonacci
Ottobre 22, 2019

In May, Bezos unveiled a mockup of the Blue Moon lander and revealed that his privately held space company was working on a hydrogen-fueled BE-7 engine to provide propulsion.

In May, NASA announced it had asked 11 companies to carry out studies and produce prototypes of human landers for the Artemis program.

Bezos said his company was teaming up with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper on the proposal to build what they call a "Human Landing System" that will land two U.S. astronauts on the lunar surface as part of the Artemis mission, planned in theory for 2024. It'll be the "prime contractor" and handle overall program management, engineering (both for systems and the mission), mission assurance and safety.

Draper would lead descent guidance and flight avionics. "We look forward to safely and sustainably returning our nation to the surface of the moon by 2024". The proposed three-part landing system fits nicely within the framework set by NASA, and is sized to be launched on commercial rockets-likely United Launch Alliance's Vulcan booster and Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket.

This appears to be a brilliantly calculated plan to win political support, and funding from NASA, as it considers proposals from contractors for a "human landing system" to deliver astronauts to the Moon from a Lunar Gateway.

The entire plan seems created to give NASA a plug-and-play approach to the lunar landing program.

Lockheed Martin has built numerous solar system probes for NASA and Mars robots.

Lockheed Martin has been working on its own lunar lander concept for NASA's use, but made a decision to join forces with Blue Origin for the Appendix H proposal - partly because the timeline for a 2024 landing is so tight.

Here's a diagram of the new BE-7 engine. The video showed a robotic carrier, not unlike the ones used at Bezos' better-known business venture, trundling the structure across an expansive factory floor.

It remains to be seen what other industry providers put forward.

Together, the four companies will respond to NASA's call for tenders on November 1.

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