NASA has made a significant announcement regarding its Artemis program, aimed at exploring the Moon and preparing for future missions to Mars. The space agency has selected Blue Origin, based in Kent, Washington, as the second provider of a human landing system for the Artemis V mission. This decision marks an important step forward in NASA’s goal of expanding lunar exploration, uncovering scientific discoveries, and paving the way for future astronaut missions to Mars.
We selected @BlueOrigin to develop the human landing system for the #Artemis V mission. This component for deep space transportation will help us in our goal of sending astronauts to the surface of the Moon and returning them home safely: https://t.co/KMq5fUn0ll pic.twitter.com/mpfUjWr6OX
— NASA (@NASA) May 19, 2023
Blue Origin’s Role:
As part of the contract, Blue Origin will be responsible for designing, developing, testing, and verifying its Blue Moon lander to meet NASA’s requirements for recurring astronaut expeditions to the lunar surface. The lander will need to be capable of docking with Gateway, a space station in lunar orbit where crew transfer takes place. The contract also includes provisions for an uncrewed demonstration mission to the lunar surface, followed by a crewed demonstration on the Artemis V mission in 2029. The total value of the firm-fixed price contract awarded to Blue Origin amounts to $3.4 billion.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson expressed excitement about the selection of Blue Origin, emphasizing the agency’s commitment to commercial and international partnerships in the realm of human spaceflight. Nelson described this as a golden age of human spaceflight, made possible by collaborative efforts. He also emphasized the significance of investing in the infrastructure necessary to land the first astronauts on Mars, highlighting the importance of missions like Artemis.
Artemis V Mission:
In the upcoming Artemis V mission, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will launch four astronauts to lunar orbit aboard the Orion spacecraft. Once Orion docks with Gateway, two of the astronauts will transfer to Blue Origin’s human landing system for a weeklong journey to the Moon’s South Pole region. There, they will engage in scientific research and exploration activities. The Artemis V mission represents a critical phase in NASA’s lunar exploration capabilities, establishing foundational systems to support future complex missions in lunar orbit and on the surface, aligning with the agency’s Moon to Mars exploration approach.
Benefits of Adding Another Partner:
By bringing Blue Origin onboard as a human landing system partner for the Artemis program, NASA aims to increase competition, reduce costs, establish a regular cadence of lunar landings, contribute to the lunar economy, and progress toward future missions to Mars. This addition of a second partner complements NASA’s existing contract with SpaceX, which is responsible for demonstrating an initial human landing system for the Artemis III mission. The inclusion of multiple providers will enable healthy competition and a broader range of options for fulfilling NASA’s lunar surface access needs for future Artemis missions.
Driving Innovation and Growing the Lunar Economy:
NASA’s decision to support the development of innovative human landing system concepts and designs encourages increased access to space for the benefit of all. The agency believes that having two distinct lunar lander designs, each with its own approach to meeting NASA’s mission requirements, will enhance robustness and ensure a regular cadence of Moon landings. This competitive approach fosters innovation, reduces costs, and promotes the growth of commercial capabilities, opening up opportunities to serve other customers and nurture a lunar economy.
Blog Post Summary :
NASA’s selection of Blue Origin as the second provider of a human landing system for the Artemis V mission represents a significant milestone in the agency’s efforts to explore the Moon and prepare for future missions to Mars. This decision promotes healthy competition, reduces costs, and drives innovation in the space industry. With the Artemis program, NASA aims to send astronauts, including the first woman and the first person of color, to the Moon for scientific discovery, economic benefits, and to establish a foundation for crewed missions to Mars. The collaboration between NASA,