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Firms compete to build next-gen lunar lander

Posted on Saturday, 2 May, 2020 | Comment icon 8 comments

The three competing spacecraft designs. Image Credit: NASA
Blue Origin, SpaceX and Dynetics are each working on their own solutions to landing humans on the Moon.
NASA doesn't seem to be letting the coronavirus pandemic get in the way of its lunar ambitions, as evidenced by the fact that the space agency is pushing ahead with plans to develop a new human landing system with the goal of launching a manned mission to the Moon within the next four years.

To this end, on Thursday NASA awarded contracts to three commercial teams - Blue Origin, SpaceX and Dynetics - that will each share a total of $967 million in funding to develop their own solutions.

Over the next ten months, these private firms will work on a concept for a manned transportation vehicle capable of carrying astronauts to the Moon, landing on the surface and returning to Earth.
SpaceX will be doubling down on its proposed Starship deep-space transportation system - a reusable 50-meter tall spacecraft capable of carrying up to 100 people at a time.

Dynetics, meanwhile, is opting for a more modest two-person lander, while Blue Origin - which is working together with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper - will produce a more traditional multi-stage system with separate ascent, descent and transfer elements.

Whichever solution NASA ultimately selects will go on to carry the first astronauts to the Moon.

If the mission succeeds, it will be the first manned lunar landing in more than 50 years.

Source: | Comments (8)

Tags: Moon, Artemis

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Seti42 on 2 May, 2020, 16:54
Personally, I think we should invest more in sending out robotic/AI probes (Europa!) than sending people out past earth orbit right now. Sure, we should be researching and developing ways to launch larger loads/more stuff into space for less money, but I honestly fail to see the need to focus on human cargo to the moon.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 2 May, 2020, 17:22
There are two points to be made here. Firstly science by remote control is good, but not great. Why do we still send scientists to Antarctica? Because trained human eyes in the field are ALWAYS better than trained human eyes watching a monitor a huge distance away. Humans are more adaptable than robots, able to change plans immediately. Robotic exploration is slow by comparison. The only two robotic rovers have ever exceed the distance covered by the Apollo 17 rover, Lunokhod 2, which operated for 4 months and Opportunity which operated for 14 years. The Apollo 17 crew were on the moon for a f... [More]
Comment icon #3 Posted by Seti42 on 2 May, 2020, 18:06
Well, then...We have to go all in. Cut military budgets in half (or more) and work 100% together in a global cooperative, not as rival nations. All of that in addition to (at least in the US) increasing funding to sorely needed social programs like universal health care, raising minimum wages, more educational funding, and a stronger social safety net. Oh, and there's also the fact that we have to come together to actually deal with climate change. That really should happen first. We need to essentially be a TON better than we are...And that could happen, but it'll take generations. I love the... [More]
Comment icon #4 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 2 May, 2020, 18:18
If everybody thought like you do we will never be ready.  You really fail to understand the concept of progress. It doesn't involve sitting around doing nothing until one day, as if by magic, you are suddenly ready. It involves small steps. It involves learning along the way. It involves small successes and big failures. It involves working so that you are ready.
Comment icon #5 Posted by DreadLordAvatar on 2 May, 2020, 21:21
Son, the concept of progress is only sustainable by the concept of profit.  We ain’t Star Trek...yet.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Seti42 on 3 May, 2020, 1:47
And you fail to understand people need to learn to crawl before they can walk. You don't go from horse cart straight to Bugatti Veyron. We're never going to have a huge, global space program until many down to earth issues are dealt with.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Peter B on 3 May, 2020, 1:52
Isn't it a bit optimistic to expect that in less than four years we'll go from announcing the companies to achieving a landing? I mean, it was 6-7 years of hard slog by Grumman to get the original LM ready for flight, in a project where money was easily available. Or am I getting something wrong here?
Comment icon #8 Posted by DanL on 3 May, 2020, 20:10
We need people on the moon for the same reason that we need people in the coastal port cities even though they are at risk from the storms and sea. The moon will be our port to the rest of the solar system. Launching from Earth costs a fortune. Just getting free of its massive gravity requires a huge expenditure of fuel. Look at the Saturn V Rocket and then look at the little lunar lander. From the moon, the other moons and the asteroid belt are easy to reach. We couldn't launch a fleet from an inland city and we can't explore the solar system from Earth.

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