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NASA chose SpaceX to land a manned spacecraft on the moon to demonstrate capability

The choice of Spice X is as a sole supplier. Also competing in the tender was a group that included Blue Origin Lockheed Martin and another group led by the Dintics Corporation which was a partner in the Apollo project. The assessment: SpaceX's offer was the cheapest, because Elon Musk has future plans on Mars for which this would be an opportunity to develop technologies

Illustration of the SpaceX Starship lander that will carry NASA's first astronauts to the moon as part of the Artemis program. Image: SpaceX
Illustration of the SpaceX Starship lander that will carry NASA's first astronauts to the moon as part of the Artemis program. Image: SpaceX

As you know, NASA is preparing to send astronauts to explore the moon as part of a program Artemis , although the target date - 2024 seems unrealistic at the moment.

At the end of the week it was reported that NASA has chosen Elon Musk's SpaceX to continue developing the first commercial human lander that will safely carry the next two American astronauts to the surface of the moon, including the first female astronaut to land on the moon as the sole winner. Also competing in the tender was a group that included Blue Origin Lockheed Martin and another group headed by the Dintics Corporation that was a partner in building components for the Apollo program.

NASA's large SLS launcher will launch an Orion spacecraft carrying four astronauts to orbit the moon. There they will transfer to SpaceX's manned lander known as HLS for the final leg of their journey to the moon. After a week in which they will explore the ground, they will return to the lander and meet again with the Orion spacecraft in orbit around the moon and then return to Earth.

The value of the project, which will span several years and will be paid according to SpaceX's compliance with milestones, is $2.89 billion. "With this budget, we at NASA and our partners will complete the first manned lunar demonstration mission in the 21st century, as the agency takes a step forward in women's equality and long-term deep space exploration," said Kathy Luders, NASA. Associate Director of the Manned Missions Administration. "This critical step puts humanity on the path to sustainable exploration of the Moon, and paves the way for missions farther into the Solar System, including manned flights to Mars."

SpaceX was one of three companies that announced that they would compete for the tender to develop and manufacture the system that will land the first man on the moon since 1972. The two competing groups were made up of several companies that applied together - a group that included Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin, Draper and Northrop Grumman and at the head of the third group was the Dintics Corporation in cooperation with over 25 subcontractors.

The industry estimates that SpaceX's win was due to the low price it offered - about half of the competition. It is likely that Elon Musk is willing to subsidize the construction of the lunar lander in order to advance the technology towards a manned launch to Mars that he wishes to have.

reach the moon in collaboration with industry

NASA says SpaceX worked closely with NASA experts during the HLS design period to ensure it met NASA performance requirements and international space standards. These standards form the basis for building safe systems, these agreed standards range from the fields of engineering, safety, health and technical and medical conditions.

"This is an exciting time for NASA and especially for the Artemis team," said Lisa Watson-Morgan, HLS program manager at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. "During the Apollo program we proved that it was possible to do the seemingly impossible: to land humans on the moon. Now we are doing this by taking a collaborative approach working with industry and leveraging NASA's expertise and proven technical capabilities, we will once again return American astronauts to the lunar surface, this time to explore new areas for longer periods of time. "

SpaceX's HLS Starship, which is planned to land on the moon, will use Raptor engines, and the experience with them in flights from Falcon launchers and Dragon and Starship spacecraft. The spacecraft will include a spacious cabin and two air boots. The Starship architecture is designed to evolve into a fully reusable launch and landing system designed for travel to the Moon, Mars and other destinations.

In the message published by SpaceX it is written: We humbly approach helping NASA enter a new era of human space exploration.

Together, NASA and SpaceX have successfully executed similar bold and innovative partnerships, including restoring America's ability to launch astronauts into orbit and return them safely home. We will build on our joint achievements, and take advantage of years of close technical cooperation to return to the moon. In this way we will lay the infrastructure for human exploration to Mars and beyond.

Having a human presence on the moon will require safe and affordable transportation of crew and significant amounts of cargo. SpaceX's Starship is an example of ultra-heavy spaceships and rockets that will be able to be launched and fully reused. The ability to bring enough fuel to a lunar landing rendezvous and back to orbit with other powerful capabilities and unique safety features are designed to provide these essential building blocks.

"Starship will carry the crew and all supplies, equipment and scientific payloads on the flight between lunar orbit and the surface of the moon, necessary for extensive research of the moon. Building on the safety and reliability of Dragon and Falcon, Starship will include proven avionics, guidance and navigation systems, autonomous rendezvous, precision docking and landing capabilities, as well as thermal protection, and a spacious cabin with familiar displays and interfaces used today by astronauts on Dragon spacecraft.”

However, NASA emphasizes that the selection is only for the demonstration flight, and that in the future it intends to implement a competitive procurement for transportation services expected to the lunar surface that will provide human access to the surface of the moon on a regular basis beyond the crew missions already planned as part of the Artemis program.

with a rocket space launch system of NASA, spacecraft Orion , HLS and the Moongate (Gateway ,) NASA and its commercial and international partners will return to the moon for scientific scientific research, to provide economic benefits and to inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists.

NASA, working with its partners throughout the Artemis program, will develop precision landing technologies and develop new mobile capabilities to enable exploration in new areas of the Moon. On the surface, the agency proposes to build living facilities and lunar vehicles, to test new systems for generating new electricity. These and other innovations and advancements made as part of the Artemis program will ensure that NASA and its partners are ready for the next big step in human exploration - the exploration of Mars.

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