NASA recently announced in its blog post that it had chosen five major companies to assist them in their efforts to send back humans to the lunar surface when the Artemis program kicks off. This puts the human race one step towards returning to the Moon.

The five companies that won a collective amount of $146 million to design a lunar lander include Blue Origin, Dynetics, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, and SpaceX. The space agency noted that this project is separate from the controversial Human Landing system (HLS) contract they awarded to SpaceX earlier this year.

 SpaceX, Blue Origin, Three Other Companies Collectively Won $146 Million For NASA's Crewed Trips to the Moon
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Artist's concept of an astronaut in the xEMU space suit setting up a science experiment on the lunar surface.

Five Companies Will Work Together to Build Lunar Landing flow for Artemis Program

The five companies are tasked with making advancements in making sustainable human landing system concepts by conducting risk-reduction activities and working together to cultivate capabilities for crewed lunar landing missions.

The awards were given under the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP-2) Appendix N. They announced a fixed price for each company with milestone-based contracts expected to be seen in the next 15 months.

According to Interesting Engineering, SpaceX received $9.4 million, Northrop Grumman won $34.8 million, while Lockheed Martin got $35.2 million. Moreover, Dynetics won $40.8 million, and finally, Blue Origin got its break by winning the $25.6 million NASA contract.

Kathy Lueders, NASA's Associate Administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations at Headquarters in Washington, said that establishing a long-term human presence on the lunar surface through lunar landing recurring services is one of the major goals Artemis program.

This will lay the foundation for the US to learn more about the Moon and understand how humans could live and work in deep space for future missions beyond the Solar System.

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The five companies will design lunar lander concepts and conduct various activities relevant to the Artemis program. More so, they will perform tests of lunar landings t bring crucial technologies into maturity. They will play a vital role in shaping the future of NASA's landing system capable of transporting astronauts from the lunar orbit and to the Moon's surface.

"Collaboration with our partners is critical to achieving NASA's long-term Artemis lunar exploration goals," Interesting Engineering quoted HLS Manager Lisa Watson-Morgan. The space agency hopes that partnerships with innovative companies will help establish a robust lunar economy while also exploring the lunar surface for future generations to come.

Separate from Human Landing System Contract Previously Awarded to SpaceX

Earlier this year, NASA has selected SpaceX to build a Human Landing System for future lunar missions. However, Dynetics and Jeff Bezos' company Blue Origins protested against this decision to a government watchdog.

Blue Origin has already filed a protest and sued the space agency for solely choosing SpaceX for the landing system contract for HLS. They even offered to cover up to $2 billion for the first two years of production of the lunar lander but to no avail.

According to Tech Crunch, the recent contract where five companies were chosen is separate from this controversial contract. As of now, the lawsuit against NASA is still ongoing.

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Check out more news and information on the Artemis Mission in Science Times.