Last Thursday, NASA announced it had selected 3 companies to do developmental work on Lunar Lander systems.
The first is Blue Origin, aka The National Team (yes, that is what they are calling themselves). It consists of a 3 piece system. The first is a transfer stage, based on the Cygnus vehicle. The second piece is a decent stage, based on Blue Origin’s Blue Moon vehicle, and the third piece is an Ascent Stage, developed by Lockheed Martin. They are receiving $579 Million for the development of it.
And for those who want to see the animation of it, here it is.
Next up is a company called Dynetics. They are well known in the space industry, but not really well known outside of it. Their design is somewhat non-traditional, an includes using drop tanks but maintaining the rest of the vehicle. Sierra Nevada Corporation, who is building the DreamChaser vehicle for Commercial Crew, is one of their major partners. They are receiving $253 Million for it.
And here is the Animation for Dynetics’ vehicle.
Finally, also SpaceX received an award, based on their STarship design. This would be a very large lander, that requires in-space refueling, but has people very excited because it can deliver a lot of cargo, and is completely reusable. They received $135 Million to develop their vehicle.
No fancy animation for this, but there are a few pictures floating around the internet, thanks to SpaceX twitter.
Eric Berger, over at Ars Technica, has done a really good job covering the details of the awards. I encourage you to read his piece on it. Also, if you really want the details, check out the source selection document from NASA directly.
I am actually kind of excited by this — NASA is clearly picking some more interesting designs, and is looking for outside of the box thinking. For example — Boeing bid, but did not get selected for it, and none of the systems require the SLS to actually fly the lander to the moon.
I am a disappointed to hear the comments from the House Science Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and the Space and Aviation Subcommittee Chairwoman Kendra Horn were so negative on it. I know they have taken a negative view towards commercial space development, but I standby my belief that the only way to actually have humanity truly benefit from space is through commercial space development, leading to space settlement.