NASA is going with SpaceX’s “starship” design for NASA’s Human Landing System program. Along with Blue Origin and Dynetics, Space X was chosen last year to compete for the contract, but in this phase, NASA decided to go another route. NASA cited budget constraints in awarding only one contract to SpaceX – unlike, in 2010 when NASA awarded both Space X and Boeing contracts for the Commercial Crew Program, where the goal was to get private-sector companies to get astronauts to the International Space Station. In a document obtained by The Washington Post NASA stated cost and Starship’s ability to carry large amounts of cargo to and from the moon as two key reasons that Space X pulled ahead of their competition.
Kathy Lueders, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate said in a statement, “With this award, NASA and our partners will complete the first crewed demonstration mission to the surface of the Moon in the 21st century as the agency takes a step forward for women’s equality and long-term deep space exploration.”
NASA Artemis Program Has Goals
The moon lander is part of the Artemis program. The Artemis program has the goal of landing the first woman and person of color on the Moon. The Artemis Team of astronauts has twenty-one Astronauts, with nine of them being women. NASA also plans to use innovative technologies to explore more of the Moon’s surface than ever before.
NASA is working through six main focus sections to meet the Artemis mission standards to get Astronauts to the Moon and back to Earth. NASA is currently upgrading all launch facilities at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. They are working to create a Space Launch System (SLS). NASA’s Orion spacecraft will carry crew to lunar orbit where they will transfer to a human landing system or the Gateway. The crew will also use the Orion system to return to Earth. The Gateway will be a lunar outpost around the moon. Created to support human scientific exploration in deep space. The lunar landing system that NASA just announced Space X. NASA is also working to update the current space suit to meet the demands for deep space.
SpaceX Taking a Lead in the Space Industry
But this is not the only contract Space X has won this year with NASA related to the Artemis Program. In February, NASA awarded Space X a contract to launch the first two pieces of the Gateway lunar outpost in 2024 using a modified version of the Falcon Heavy rocket to move the massive core of the deep space station toward the moon. The first two sections of the Gateway system are the Gateway’s Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) and the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO).
In an age of innovation and change around the space industry, Space X seems to be leading the way with not only innovative technology but continually able to outbid their competitors by providing lower costs. And with new programs like Starship heading to not only the moon but hopefully soon to Mars as well. Who knows what it is to come in the future when it comes to space.