For the first time since 1972, people are headed back to the moon. NASA confirmed today that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space company secured a $3 billion-plus contract to develop a new lunar lander and the first rendering of it has been released.
As part of the Artemis mission program, NASA is sending humans to the moon on Artemis V in 2029 at the soonest. Blue Origin, the space company founded by Bezos, will design, develop, and test the “Blue Moon” lander. The lander will be capable of landing on the moon and also docking with the “Gateway,” which is a space station in lunar orbit.
Credits: Blue Origin
NASA is paying Blue Origin $3.4 billion for the contract. Assuming everything goes to plan, here’s how the Artemis V mission should play out:
Four astronauts will ride a rocket to lunar orbit on the Orion spacecraftWhen Orion docks with Gateway, two astronauts will board the Blue Moon and head to the Moon’s south pole where they will walk around on the moon and conduct science experiments.
NASA previously worked with Elon Musk’s SpaceX company on a landing system for Artemis III and Artemis IV. Having two lunar landers, which have different designs and approaches, will provide “more robustness” and increase the cadence of Moon landings, NASA said.
The last time humans went to the Moon’s surface was the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. For the Artemis program, NASA is aiming to get humans back to the Moon, including the first woman and person of color. After Artemis, NASA is hoping to send astronauts to Mars.
In other super awesome fun space news, SpaceX recently launched its first test flight for the world’s largest rocket and spacecraft, Starship. The test flight achieved some of SpaceX’s goals and was heralded as a success by NASA, but minutes after launch, it began to spin out of control. SpaceX pressed a button and blew it up.
More recently, a private company from Japan aiming to become the first non-government organization to land a spacecraft on the moon ran into issues at the last minute.
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