Blue Origin to lead development of NASA's Artemis Moon lander
Blue Origin has entered into a partnership with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper to design a lunar lander for NASA's Artemis program. Today, at the 2019 International Astronautical Congress in Washington DC, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos announced the signing of the agreement to offer the space agency a Human Landing System to place US astronauts on the Moon by 2024.
If NASA is to meet its goal of returning to the Moon within five years, it's going to not only need a new manned lander, but one that is more than a generation ahead of the tiny lunar module that served the Apollo program. This means a much larger, more complex machine that can carry larger payloads, remain on the Moon for longer periods of time and be at least partially reusable.
To achieve this, four aerospace companies have decided to form a team with each taking responsibility for one part of the spacecraft. According to its press release, Blue Origin will work as the prime contractor with overall responsibility for program management, systems engineering and mission safety. In addition, it will build the Descent Element. Based on the Blue Moon lunar lander and designed around Blue Origin's BE-7 engine, this will bring the lander to the Moon's surface.
Meanwhile, Lockheed will build the reusable Ascent Element to return the astronauts to orbit, and it will take charge of flight operations and training. Northrop will produce the Transfer Element, which brings the lander to the Moon and Draper will work on the descent guidance and avionics.
"National challenges call for a national response," says Bob Smith, CEO, Blue Origin. "We are humbled and inspired to lead this deeply committed team that will land NASA astronauts on the Moon. Combining our partners’ heritage with our advance work on the Blue Moon lunar lander and its BE-7 engine, our team is looking forward to working with NASA in support of the Artemis program.”
Source: Blue Origin