SpaceX wins NASA contract to build spaceship for landing astronauts on the moon
On Friday, NASA selected SpaceX to create a spacecraft that will land astronauts on the moon for the first time since the Apollo mission. This is reported by The Washington Post. The contract marks another major victory for Elon Musk’s company and strengthens its status as one of NASA’s key partners.
With a $ 2.9 million contract, SpaceX has left behind companies such as Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, partnered with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper. Another competitor to SpaceX was Dynestics, a major defense contractor. NASA initially selected all three companies for the initial phase of the contract, and two of them were expected to build a lunar lander. For other major programs, NASA selected multiple vendors to stimulate competition and provide a reserve in case one of them failed to complete the task.
By choosing only SpaceX for such an important mission, NASA made it clear that it fully trusts the rapidly developing company. The agency will reportedly publicly announce this decision in the coming hours.
Over the past few years, SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk in 2002 to ultimately bring humans to Mars, has completely revolutionized the space industry. For NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to land a man on the moon, SpaceX offered its Starship reusable spacecraft designed to fly large numbers of people into deep space and land on celestial bodies. It is worth noting that at the moment, the Starship tests are not over, and all the prototypes being tested have made bright emergency landings. However, Musk hopes to put the spacecraft into orbit as early as this year.
SpaceX was one of two companies hired by NASA to transport astronauts to the International Space Station. Last year, the company’s ships made two missions with astronauts, and the next human-crewed flight is scheduled for next Thursday. In addition to SpaceX, NASA hired Boeing to deliver astronauts to the ISS. However, the company has yet to complete a test flight with astronauts on board.
The Artemis program, which plans to land astronauts on the moon, was launched under former US President Donald Trump’s administration and supported by the Joe Biden administration. However, unlike Trump, who ordered NASA to land astronauts on the moon by 2024, the current administration is revising the timeline, focusing on the spacecraft’s readiness for the mission. This year, the US Congress allocated $ 850 million to the Artemis program, far less than the $ 3.3 billion needed to meet the 2024 deadline. But it is not planned to abandon the program.