NASA has big plans for the next lunar spacecraft, and it’s proposing a public-private project. NASA is granting $45.5 million to eleven U.S companies (SpaceX and Blue Origin are included) for a future spacecraft that will get astronauts to the Moon’s surface. This goal is part of the Artemis Program, and NASA wants to accomplish it by 2024. The idea of this plan is that NASA will give the award on the Next Space Technology for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) program and each company must come with a 20% contribution to the total project costs.
What Is NASA Declaring?
Marshall Smith, the director for Human Lunar-Exploration Programs, says that they want to accelerate the return to the Moon. For doing this, NASA is challenging the partners with this idea, and they are collaborating for everything that means partnerships, hardware development, and operations. Everyone from the Lunar-Exploration Program is excited, and they want to return to the Moon as soon as possible. For that, they have made this public-private partnership for the future study of the human landing systems.
Besides this, the plan is to build a small space station called Gateway for a surface-exploration hub. Gateway will serve as an outpost for the astronauts after they return from the Moon surface. The plan is to build Gateway in a few years from now, and three spacecraft will be needed for these trips.
NASA will need a transfer element – for carrying the astronauts from Gateway, a descent element – to take down the astronauts to the surface; and an ascent element – for returning to Gateway.
Drawing to a close, the funds announced by NASA will help the eleven companies to study and build their versions of the three spacecraft. Every company has an award for an element study and to make it. The eleven companies that are receiving money from NASA are SpaceX, Blue Origin, Boeing, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Dynetics, Lockheed Martin, Masten Space Systems, OrbitBeyond, Northrop Grumman, Sierra Nevada Corp., and SSL.
Jeff Wilkinson is a Senior Politics Reporter at Debate Report covering provincial and national politics, . Before joining Debate Report, Jeff worked on several provincial campaigns including Jack Layton. Jeff has worked as a freelance journalist in Toronto, having been published by over 20 outlets including CBC, the Center for Media and VICE.com.