NASA said today that it will build a second human lunar lander for its Artemis mission to return people to the Moon. The government is asking commercial space firms to design landers that can ferry humans to and from the Moon’s orbit and surface by 2026 or 2027 at the earliest.
NASA has already contracted with SpaceX to build a lunar lander for Artemis, which will be the first to land a woman and a person of colour on the Moon. In 2021, NASA granted SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to convert its future Starship spacecraft into a lunar lander. NASA and SpaceX are now working on the first Artemis lunar landing in 2025, albeit this is improbable.
NASA HAD ORIGINALLY WANTED TO PICK TWO COMPANIES TO DEVELOP HUMAN LUNAR LANDERS
The choice to choose only one firm didn’t sit well with the losers. Blue Origin then sued NASA in federal court over the selection, but lost. However, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson voiced his wish for two lunar lander suppliers, hoping Congress would support the programme. And at one time Congress seemed to be ordering NASA to do so. According to the Senate Appropriations Committee, in October, NASA should choose a second business to build Artemis’ lunar lander. However, the most recent budget agreement passed for 2022 did not require NASA to do so, but did provide it with the full $1.195 billion requested for lunar landers. The choice to choose only one firm didn’t sit well with the losers.