NASA starts accepting applications for a second lander for the Artemis program

NASA has published an official announcement about the start of accepting applications for the creation of a second lunar lander for the needs of the Artemis program. It will continue until November 15, 2022, the winner will be named in May 2023.

Blue Origin vs. NASA

In 2019, NASA initiated the HLS (Human Landing Services) competition, the purpose of which was to create a spacecraft for delivering people and cargo to the lunar surface. Three applications from SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynetics reached its final. After considering the proposals, the organization’s experts gave preference to the SpaceX lunar vehicle.

Starship on the Moon (concept). Source: SpaceX

This decision provoked a scandal. Blue Origin sued NASA, demanding to review the results of the competition. Its lawyers referred to the fact that the organization stated its desire to choose two winners, which determined the price offered by the company. In turn, the aerospace administration argued its position by the fact that it had never given any legal guarantees to finance two contracts at once, and it had to limit itself to one contract due to lack of funds. As a result, the court rejected Blue Origin’s claims.

Second lunar vehicle for the Artemis program

Since then, the situation has undergone certain changes. NASA managed to enlist the financial support of the American Congress, which allowed it to return to the original approach. This year, the organization announced the implementation of a new program called SLD (Sustaining Lunar Development). Its goal is to create a second lander for the needs of the Artemis program. It will also be built by a private company. Thus, NASA plans to repeat the scheme previously tested with spacecraft used to deliver cargo and people to the ISS. The availability of an alternative lander will become insurance in case of an accident or a situation if one of the projects encounters difficulties in implementation (which, for example, happened with the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft).

Member of the Artemis mission (concept). Source: NASA

The winner of the SLD competition will first have to conduct an unmanned test, which will demonstrate that their device will be able to land two astronauts at the South Pole of the Moon and ensure their stay for a week, with four planned and one emergency exit to the surface. If successful, a flight with people will follow. It will take place no earlier than the Artemis V mission. In the future, NASA plans to organize larger-scale expeditions involving the landing of four astronauts. Their planned duration will be 33 days.

So far, no American company has announced its intention to apply for the SLD competition. But with a high degree of probability, Blue Origin will take part in it. At the same time, it is unknown whether the company will limit itself to repeating its old application or try to rework it. As for SpaceX, it will no longer be able to take part in the new competition.

According to

Follow us on Twitter to get the most interesting space news in time