NASA awards SpaceX, Blue Origin, 3 other companies R2bn in contracts to make moon lander designs
- Blue Origin and SpaceX were among five companies that won NASA moon-lander contracts on Tuesday.
- Both companies will design "sustainable" landers for NASA to regularly send astronauts to the moon.
- Elon Musk's SpaceX won a R133 million contract and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin won a R364 million contract.
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NASA announced on Tuesday that it had awarded five US companies, including Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, a total of R2 billion in contracts to develop moon-lander designs.
The contracts are part of NASA's Artemis program, which aims to send astronauts back to the moon by 2024.
SpaceX received a contract worth R133million, while Blue Origin got a contract worth R364 million, according to NASA's statement.
The project will take place over the next 15 months, according to NASA.
The other awards included a R580 million contract for Dynetics, a R500 million contract for Lockheed Martin, and a R495 million contract for Northrop Grumman, NASA said.
The five companies will develop sustainable lunar lander design concepts to help NASA regularly transport astronauts to the surface of the moon, the agency said. The agency will evaluate the performance and safety of the lunar lander concepts, and minimise the risks involved, it said.
It was unclear how many companies were in the running for the contracts. Insider has contacted NASA for further information.
"Collaboration with our partners is critical to achieving NASA's long-term Artemis lunar exploration goals," Lisa Watson-Morgan, Human Landing System program manager at NASA, said in the statement. "By partnering with innovative US companies, we will establish a robust lunar economy while exploring new areas of the Moon for generations to come."
This project is different from the R41 billion NASA lunar lander contract award to SpaceX in April. Under the exclusive contract, which Blue Origin missed out on, NASA astronauts are set to fly to the moon for the first time since 1972 in SpaceX's Starship.
Blue Origin has since filed a protest and sued NASA for its decision to solely select SpaceX for the landing-system contract - the agency was expected to choose two companies. Bezos' company also offered to cover up to R28 billion for the first two years of production of a moon lander.
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