NASA opens up to competition for a second lunar lander in view of the Artemis missions. Following the pressures even from Congress, in fact, the stars and stripes space agency has allocated a new race after the first was won by Elon Musk ‘s SpaceX . Now, the space administration will have to consider proposals for a second operator to develop the means by which astronauts will have to get back on our natural satellite within the decade. The decision to opt for a single lander was mainly due to budgetary reasons. After SpaceX took home the award, complaints about Jeff Bezos ‘ Blue Origin came immediately, who through a series of lawsuits had unsuccessfully tried to join the program. Now Bezos has a second chance. The new announcement
The contract to be stipulated with NASA provides for the design of the aircraft on which “the next man and the first woman” will be able to reach the surface of the Moon once they arrive in its orbit. The program includes the construction of two lunar landers; one for testing without humans on board and another for the actual landing of the astronauts. In April, the US space agency shelved the $ 5.9 billion Blue Moon landing system, preferring rival SpaceX’s $ 2.9 billion project. After NASA’s decision, SpaceX has already received $ 439 million to start the work. Now, with the opening to competition, Bezos’ company is immediately back in the race. A “reserve” project
The competition launched by NASA is called Sustaining lunar development, and already from the title it stands as a sort of “reserve” of the original project. The purpose of the program, in fact, is to ensure that there are at least two companies that can compete for subsequent service contracts for Artemis landing missions, in order to guarantee a “back up” in case of delays or failures of one. of the two projects. The project will have to include both an unmanned and manned demonstration module, just like the contract won by SpaceX. Budget matters
At first, NASA seemed willing to choose at least two companies for the construction of the lander, a strategy previously used to create redundancies in the event of bankruptcies or delays by one of the two companies. The decision to reduce the selection to a single company was dictated by the fact that Congress financed just a quarter of what NASA requested for the program. NASA’s decision had also been judged legitimate by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the independent agency that oversees the expenses decided by the federal government, which in July 2021 rejected Blue Origin’s first appeal. The new funding
“I promised competition, and here it is,” said NASA administrator Bill Nelson . NASA’s choice to open a second competition would also come from the pressures received by the Capitol to ensure market competition. Among other things, NASA received just a quarter of the approximately three and a half billion euros requested in the past fiscal year. This year, however, the program received full funding. Congress has allocated more than $ 1 billion to develop the lunar lander compatible with SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft. Overall, the two Chambers increased their respective program spending estimates by approximately $ 250 million.

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