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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has awarded Blue Origin a $3.4 billion contract to build a spacecraft that can carry astronauts to and from the surface of the moon.
Two years after Elon Musk’s SpaceX won the same contract to transport astronauts, the statement made by the US space agency on Friday, May 19, was a huge victory for the firm founded by Jeff Bezos.
According to Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator, “Today we are pleased to announce that Blue Origin will build a human landing system as NASA’s second supplier to deliver the Artemis astronauts to the lunar surface.”
“Human spaceflight is entering a golden age, made possible by NASA’s partnerships with the private sector and other nations. Together, we are investing in the infrastructure needed to set up the first landing on Mars, Nelson continued.
On Twitter, Bezos expressed his gratitude for being “honored to be on this journey with @NASA to get astronauts to the Moon, this time to stay.”
Honored to be on this journey with @POT to take astronauts to the Moon, this time to stay. Together, we will solve the boiling problem and make LOX-LH2 a storable propellant combination, powering the state of the art for all deep space missions. #Sagebrush… pic.twitter.com/Y0zDhnp1qX
—Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) May 19, 2023
Blue Origin plans to work with Lockheed Martin Corp., Boeing Co., Draper Software and Astrobotic Robotics to develop its 52-foot-tall Blue Moon lander.
NASA chose the aerospace and space exploration firm over a competing proposal that also included Northrop Grumman Corp. and was led by defense contractor Dynetics, owned by Leidos Inc.
With the Artemis program, NASA now has a second way to get people to the moon thanks to Bezos and Blue Origin.
NASA previously awarded SpaceX $3 billion in 2021 to create the Starship spacecraft, which is set to send astronauts to the moon for the first time since the last Apollo mission in 1972.
Why another human landing system partner?
Bill Nelson, who is in charge of NASA, announced the deal at an event at NASA headquarters. He said: “I’ve said this before: we want more competition, we want two landers, and that’s better.”
“It means you can count on it and have backups,” he said. NASA says adding another partner to the human landing system will make the market more competitive and reduce costs for taxpayers.
NASA chose Blue Origin in Kent, Washington to create a system for humans to land on the moon during the Artemis V mission.
With Artemis, the space agency will see more of the moon than ever before. This will help scientists learn more and prepare for future human trips to Mars.
Reports say that Blue Origin wants to launch both its lander and this refueling shuttle using its New Glenn rocket, which has never flown before.
Artemis 4 will land on the moon in 2028, and Artemis 5 will follow suit a year later. Both will have to go through Gateway, a new space station in lunar orbit that has not yet been built.
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