Between 1969 and 1972, the US ran six crewed mission to our closest heavenly neighbour, the Moon. Now, 47 years later, NASA is looking to land on the Moon once again.
The mission to the Moon has been given the name Artemis and it will take the first woman to the moon and the next man. The mission plans to reach the Moon’s south pole by 2024 but in order to do that, NASA needs help.
“To accelerate our return to the Moon, we are challenging our traditional ways of doing business. We will streamline everything from procurement to partnerships to hardware development and even operations,” director for human lunar exploration programs at NASA, Marshall Smith, said in a statement.
In a bid to challenge its way of doing business, NASA has selected 11 firms that will “study and/or develop prototypes during the next six months that reduce schedule risk for the descent, transfer and refueling elements of a potential human landing system.”
The 11 firms and what they will be doing are:
- Aerojet Rocketdyne – Canoga Park, California
One transfer vehicle study
- Blue Origin – Kent, Washington
One descent element study, one transfer vehicle study, and one transfer vehicle prototype
- Boeing – Houston
One descent element study, two descent element prototypes, one transfer vehicle study, one transfer vehicle prototype, one refueling element study, and one refueling element prototype
- Dynetics – Huntsville, Alabama
One descent element study and five descent element prototypes
- Lockheed Martin – Littleton, Colorado
One descent element study, four descent element prototypes, one transfer vehicle study, and one refueling element study
- Masten Space Systems – Mojave, California
One descent element prototype
- Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems – Dulles, Virginia
One descent element study, four descent element prototypes, one refueling element study, and one refueling element prototype
- OrbitBeyond – Edison, New Jersey
Two refueling element prototypes
- Sierra Nevada Corporation, Louisville, Colorado, and Madison, Wisconsin
One descent element study, one descent element prototype, one transfer vehicle study, one transfer vehicle prototype, and one refueling element study
- SpaceX – Hawthorne, California
One descent element study
- SSL – Palo Alto, California
One refueling element study and one refueling element prototype
NASA says that these firms form part of a Next Space Technology for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) contract which requires each firm contribute at least 20 percent of the total project cost.
“This partnership will reduce costs to taxpayers and encourage early private investments in the lunar economy,” said NASA. The agreement allows the aforementioned firms to begin a portion of the work while negotiations regarding reward are still happening.
So, just like our grandparents or great grandparents, we might see humans walking the surface of the Moon once more.