NASA is asking private industry to come up with ideas for another lunar lander with astronauts.
The space agency is working to establish a long-term human presence on and around the Moon by the end of the 2020s, through a program called sagebrush. In 2021, NASA announced that there was selected SpaceX spacecraft as a lander for the program’s first manned surface mission, mugwort 3which is scheduled to land near the lunar south pole in 2025 or 2026.
In March of this year, agency officials said they planned to encourage the development of a second manned lander for Artemis, to provide redundancy and resiliency to the program. That plan became official today (September 16), when NASA issued a call for proposals from private companies.
related: NASA Lunar Exploration Artemis Program
“The work done under this application, in addition to current lander development and studies being conducted, will help lay the foundation for long-term deep space exploration,” said Lisa Watson-Morgan, program manager for the lander. Human Landing System on NASA’s Marshall Space Flight. center in alabama, said today in a statement (opens in a new tab).
“Partnering with American companies to do that work now allows us to leverage NASA’s knowledge and experience to foster technological innovations for a sustained presence in MoonWatson-Morgan said.
NASA issued a draft of the new application on March 31 and held a virtual “industry day” about it in April before publishing the final call today, agency officials said. Proposals must be submitted before November 1. 15 this year. The companies selected under the contract must carry out two demonstration flights to the lunar surface, one without a crew and one with a crew.
The contract that SpaceX already has with NASA has a similar requirement; the manned test flight is part of the Artemis 3 mission.
thought spacex apparently not allowed to bid on the new contract, NASA wants Starship to be a part of the Artemis program for the long term. NASA officials said in today’s statement that they plan to exercise an option in SpaceX’s existing contract, asking the company to develop its Artemis 3 Starship design “to meet an expanded set of requirements to sustain missions to the moon and make another manned demonstration landing.
The Artemis program could gain momentum in a matter of days. NASA is preparing for the program’s first test flight, Artemis 1which will use a space launch system rocket to send an Orion capsule on an uncrewed trip to lunar orbit and back.
Artemis 1 was originally supposed to release on August 1. 29, but technical failures delayed the takeoff attempt several times. The agency is currently pointing to september 27 for launch.
Mike Wall is the author of “out there (opens in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; Illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @migueldwall (opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @spacedot.com (opens in a new tab) or in Facebook (opens in a new tab).
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