NASA Selects Blue Origin’s Blue Moon Lander as Second Human Landing System
Blue Origin will now land astronauts on the surface of the Moon, as the Jeff Bezos-owned company won the second NASA human landing system award on Friday. It is a $3.4 billion fixed-price contract.
Blue Origin will develop its Blue Moon lander for the Artemis V mission, set for 2029. With this award, SpaceX and Blue Origin are both developing human landing systems for Artemis missions.
NASA awarded SpaceX the sole contract for the human landing system on the initial Artemis III mission in 2021, and Blue Origin originally fought the decision with the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and then with a lawsuit in the Federal Claims Court. SpaceX also won the contract for Artemis IV.
NASA later moved to issue this second lander contract to a company other than SpaceX, saying that a second contract will increase competition and support regular missions.
“Having two distinct lunar lander designs, with different approaches to how they meet NASA’s mission needs, provides more robustness and ensures a regular cadence of Moon landings,” said Lisa Watson-Morgan, manager of the Human Landing System Program. “This competitive approach drives innovation, brings down costs, and invests in commercial capabilities to grow the business opportunities that can serve other customers and foster a lunar economy.”
Under this contract, Blue Origin will perform an uncrewed demonstration mission to the Moon, before a crewed demo on the Artemis V mission.
In the Artemis V mission profile, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will launch four astronauts on an Orion spacecraft, which will then dock with the Gateway lunar outpost. Two astronauts will transfer to the Blue Moon lander, to travel to the South Pole region of the Moon.
Blue Origin’s Lunar lander will be powered by LOX-LH2, and the company said it will be working to make the propellant storable for the mission.