SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynetics Selected to Make Human Landers for the Moon

NASA has selected three U.S. companies to develop human landers that will land astronauts on the Moon:

One of these landers will take the first woman and next man to the surface of the Moon by 2024.

The total combined value for all awarded contracts is $967 million for the 10-month base period.

SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, is developing the Starship – a fully integrated lander that will use the SpaceX Super Heavy rocket.

Blue Origin of Kent, Washington, is developing the Integrated Lander Vehicle (ILV) – a three-stage lander to be launched on its own New Glenn Rocket System and ULA Vulcan launch system.

Dynetics (a Leidos company) of Huntsville, Alabama, is developing the Dynetics Human Landing System (DHLS) – a single structure providing the ascent and descent capabilities that will launch on the ULA Vulcan launch system.

“With these contract awards, America is moving forward with the final step needed to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024, including the incredible moment when we will see the first woman set foot on the lunar surface,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “This is the first time since the Apollo era that NASA has direct funding for a human landing system, and now we have companies on contract to do the work for the Artemis program.”

Written By Brian Wang,

30 thoughts on “SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynetics Selected to Make Human Landers for the Moon”

  1. “This document does not bind the public, except as authorized by law or as incorporated into a contract.”

  2. Probably not. Money has that effect. The idea that having both SLS and Starship as heavy lift vehicles is not a very popular opinion, and I hope that we all come together and put away the tribalism. The primary advantage of having a national program is that they must obey. Primary disadvantage is the monetary cost and sluggish control of such a bureaucratic entity. Starship is going to help out alot, and it is very good that other commercial partners are available.
    It feels like it is all coming together now.

  3. LOL I understand the idea but that wouldn’t happen it would just piss off the politicians.

    Blue Origin and its boys represent big gov/corp space companies and districts.

  4. “and is not human-rated for deep space (radiation testing).”

    Unless Orion is holding around 3 feet of water around the walls I don’t think that shielding matters that much. Its like someone telling you a pan is hot and you grabbing a piece of single ply toilet paper.

  5. They love to hate on each other in very public ways. I don’t think it would ever get in the way of the goal of monetizing space, but they are just so weird…
    Starship is the cheap heavy-lift option that will add the most value to this effort. The thought experiment is used to highlight the fact that although there is money to be made bidding on big-dollar government contracts, government cannot force commercial companies to bid. We have seen this wrt to Silicon Valley software companies approached by DoD.
    My question is intended to support my advocacy of both SpaceX and SLS. When the NASA human spaceflight program was programmed after the shuttle program ended, there was no Starship in consideration at all. Musk was just some guy intent on building reusable rockets. As the years have gone by, his vision has been supported by NASA, and his commercial heavy lifter is now right up there with the biggest black-budget contractors. Quite an achievement. But SpaceX is privately owned, and has its own vision, which may not include lifting payloads that are distasteful to one guy.
    So we will also need to have an SLS. SLS will never be scrapped because of the success of Starship. It just means that the less sensitive payloads will be much cheaper to transport, allowing our space program to provide additional funding for this very expensive lift system in other areas. Such as putting modular nuclear reactors in shadowy craters, or delivering core elements to an NTP stage.

  6. Does Musk even dislike Bezos? I admit not following the soaps a lot, but assuming that he doesn’t and would let personal feelings get in the way of business. Bezos still has the New Glenn or Vulcan, which according to the article are the launch systems he is bidding to use. Why would Musk figure into this?

  7. or any kind of zealot is irritating. How about giving your preaching a rest for a decade or two? It is more appropriate on a non technical website.

  8. So.
    What if?
    SpaceX refuses to bid on a contract due to animosity with Bezos?
    What if he says “I’m not carrying that dirtbag’s junk up for him. If you can’t guarantee that Dynetics gets the payload, I’m not bidding.”
    Go with me on this.

  9. SpaceX knows that when it comes time to transport heavy materials, they will be pretty much alone there. NASA and SpaceX are not very far apart.
    I would say symbiotic- much to ULA’s chagrin.

  10. Not if we plan to launch NASA astronauts in Dragon.
    Starship has no escape system, and is not human-rated for deep space (radiation testing). These modifications would put them behind SLS.
    Of course- if SLS crashes and burns (figuratively), we could still do it without SLS. It just becomes much more complicated. Astronauts (government employees, who are tightly regulated by a risk-averse polity) will be able to reach LEO aboard Dragon (probably). Russia and China also have their own human-rated systems, maybe Soyuz will take our astronauts up for us.
    From LEO Musk could make the trip to lunar orbit for us, and debark a decent module. Starship may even decend on its own, if we have redundancy in orbit, but otherwise it will just be another flag planting ceremony. No way Congress will waive all of these regulations.
    I think we are doing the right thing to keep all of these programs alive. Holy cow- this is a ton of flexibility. And with Starship carrying all of the luggage, we are cutting costs big time.
    Besides, our grifter politicians will never allow modular reactors to fly commercial.

  11. LOL NASA is getting guaranteed access with SpaceX and Blue Origin.

    SLS is badly overpriced and once BO is up and running even congress won’t be able to keep it alive.

    Stop pretending that SLS is the backup plan. It is the backup to the backup to the backup of the plan.

    (Starship, New Glenn, F9H, Atlas 5, SLS)

  12. Supposedly SpaceX got less money because they asked for less money. Well, to be fair, 98% of their lunar lander they were developing anyway for their own purposes. The only even slightly fraught mission specific bit are the side mounted thrusters near the top. It’s not like you need a lot of development budget for adding an elevator and solar panels.

  13. Well NASA likes guaranteed access so makes sense that they will continue to back multiple companies.

    I’m glad you finally support the need for SLS. The need for independent access to space is vital to every nation, one that is not subject to the vicissitudes of commercial interests.

  14. Not a chance.

    If anything, it will give SpaceX a chance to evolve their architecture, tailoring the design of the rockets to the various missions and parts that need to be there.

    Case in point: permanent orbital tankers. Before, they were planning to have a set of Starship tankers refueling an interplanetary SS before departing, which takes time and is risky with crew onboard.

    The Artemis plan changes that into first fueling a special SS tanker in orbit, then pass all the fuel into the crewed lunar SS in a single shot. These orbital tankers can be easily made permanent (or remain until a number of cycles passes), giving SpaceX the ability to store arbitrary amounts of fuel in orbit, for any mission they can come with.

    Remember they plan to launch SS tanker more than any other, and this gives them the way to ensure the launch bandwidth is used. Gee, they could store Hydrolox fuel to sell to others too.

    But at certain moments, they will need all the fuel they can get, in particular, at the Mars synodic cycles. This is the way they can ensure the Mars SSs are fully fueled on time.

    In any case, this small change will give them more elements and making their Mars dream easier.

  15. This is historical.

    At last NASA admits Starship exists!

    And not only that: they admit Starship can go to the Moon and they admit refueling in space can work!

    Basically, they are allowing all the Starship architecture along with theirs, with some changes to play nice with the rest.

    For example, all crew launches can be done with Orion or with Dragon Crewed, once in orbit they will either go to the Gateway on cislunar orbit using Orion to board one of these landers or take a fully fueled lunar Starship straight from Earth’s orbit.

    Either way, the architecture does not rest on all the projects being successful. And this can help SpaceX bring up Starship, albeit with less money than the rest (how surprising).

    The SS tanker in orbit is a surprise, but it makes sense. You don’t want your crew waiting for the several tanker launches required to fully replenish a Starship. Better fill one and then fill the lunar Starship in a single shot. I envisage this permanent orbital tanker mode of operation to become their modus operandi.

  16. Well NASA likes guaranteed access so makes sense that they will continue to back multiple companies.

  17. Ideally, all three landers should be attempted. There is no reason to give any single company a free foot in the door, a free market should be opened as soon as possible.

  18. I’ve been told for over 40 years that going back to the Moon would destroy the Mars effort. I hope they were right!

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