NASA has chosen three spacecraft to take humans to the moon

Rodiano Bonacci
Mag 5, 2020

On April 30, 2020, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced that three American companies have been selected to design and develop a next-generation human-rated lunar lander meant to bring American Astronauts back to the moon by 2024. Space X is owned by Elon Musk and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos reportedly invests more than $1 billion of his Amazon stock annually into Blue Origin, CNBC reported in 2018.

With these agreement grants, America is pushing ahead with the last advance expected to land space travelers on the moon by 2024, including the staggering second when we will see the principal lady set foot on the lunar surface, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in an announcement.

Blue Origin which has developed its design with parts from Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper showed off its lander in a YouTube video. This approach is similar to that of the Apollo program and will offer very little to no reusability.

SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, Calif., next to Tesla's design center, is now developing the Starship, which NASA described as "a fully integrated lander that will use the SpaceX Super Heavy rocket".

The vehicle from the Blue Origin can be launched integrated overseas the Space Launch System (SLS), but there is no plan so far on how to make an SLS rocket available for the launch of HLS elements.

A human landing system, or HLS, must safely deliver astronauts to the lunar surface, sustain them for around a week, and then return them back into space.

Conceptual designs of the Dynetics lander, which includes one lander with ascent and descent capabilities, lies low to the ground so that only a few steps are needed to board it; a safety feature NASA rank as highly important.

The awards for the lander designs came from NASA's Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP-2) program. Once in lunar orbit, astronauts would transfer to an awaiting Moon lander. The Blue Origin Company will either send it to the moon with its NewGlane rocket or land on the moon by placing it on the United Alliance Vulcan rocket.

Meanwhile Blue Origin and Dynetics, who are partnering with numerous subcontractors, are working on more conventional lander concepts. SpaceX is due to launch its first crewed flight next month, when it takes two astronauts to the International Space Station.

Through its evaluations of these different concepts, NASA will determine which ones will progress to the next step of performing demonstration missions.

"I am troubled that NASA has made a decision to ignore congressional intent and instead press forward with Human Landing System awards to try to meet an arbitrary 2024 lunar landing deadline", said Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX).

Nasa wants the new Artemis moon-landing programme to be sustainable, unlike Apollo, with multiple missions and multiple locations on the lunar surface.

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