SpaceX selected to develop spacecraft for return to the moon
SpaceX, which tests its rocket motors at its facility in McGregor, is one of three companies selected to design and develop a spacecraft for the next U.S. moon mission, NASA announced Thursday.
The combined value of the three contracts is $967 million for a 10-month base period.
The goal of NASA’s Artemis program is to land the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024.
“This is the first time since the Apollo era that NASA has direct funding for a human landing system, and now we have companies on contract to do the work for the Artemis program,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
SpaceX is developing its Starship, which will use its Super Heavy rocket.
Blue Origin of Kent, Wash., is developing its Integrated Lander Vehicle, a three-stage lander, which will use its New Glenn Rocket System and be launched on the ULA Vulcan launch system.
Dynetics of Huntsvillle, Ala., is developing the Dynetics Human Landing System, which will launch on the ULA Vulcan launch system.
The base period of the contract runs until February 2021 and during that time the space agency will decide which of the contractors will be asked to perform demonstration missions.
NASA will later select contractors “for development and maturation of sustainable lander systems followed by sustainable demonstration missions.”
“NASA intends to procure transportation to the lunar surface as commercial space transportation services after these demonstrations are complete,” the agency said in a news release Thursday.
Man last set foot on the moon in December 1972 when Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt spent three days on the lunar surface in NASA's final moon landing mission.