Posts: 49076 From: Houston, TX Registered: Nov 1999
posted 03-23-2022 03:10 PM
NASA Provides Update to Astronaut Moon Lander Plans Under Artemis
As NASA makes strides to return humans to the lunar surface under Artemis, the agency announced plans Wednesday (March 23) to create additional opportunities for commercial companies to develop an astronaut Moon lander.
Under this new approach, NASA is asking American companies to propose lander concepts capable of ferrying astronauts between lunar orbit and the lunar surface for missions beyond Artemis III, which will land the first astronauts on the Moon in more than 50 years.
Built and operated according to NASA's long-term requirements at the Moon, new landers will have the capability to dock to a lunar orbiting space station known as Gateway, increase crew capacity, and transport more science and technology to the surface.
"Under Artemis, NASA will carry out a series of groundbreaking missions on and around the Moon to prepare for the next giant leap for humanity: a crewed mission to Mars," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. "Competition is critical to our success on the lunar surface and beyond, ensuring we have the capability to carry out a cadence of missions over the next decade. Thank you to the Biden Administration and Congress for their support of this new astronaut lander opportunity, which will ultimately strengthen and increase flexibility for Artemis."
NASA's plans call for long-term lunar exploration and include landing the first woman and first person of color on the Moon as part of future Artemis missions. The agency is pursuing two parallel paths for continuing lunar lander development and demonstration, one that calls for additional work under an existing contract with SpaceX, and another open to all other U.S. companies to provide a new landing demonstration mission from lunar orbit to the surface of the Moon.
In April 2021, NASA selected SpaceX as its partner to land the next American astronauts on the lunar surface. That demonstration mission is targeted for no earlier than April 2025. Exercising an option under the original award, NASA now is asking SpaceX to transform the company's proposed human landing system into a spacecraft that meets the agency's requirements for recurring services for a second demonstration mission. Pursuing more development work under the original contract maximizes NASA's investment and partnership with SpaceX.
To bring a second entrant to market for the development of a lunar lander in parallel with SpaceX, NASA will issue a draft solicitation in the coming weeks. This upcoming activity will lay out requirements for a future development and demonstration lunar landing capability to take astronauts between orbit and the surface of the Moon. This effort is meant to maximize NASA's support for competition and provides redundancy in services to help ensure NASA's ability to transport astronauts to the lunar surface.
This upcoming second contract award, known as the Sustaining Lunar Development contract, combined with the second option under SpaceX's original landing award, will pave the way to future recurring lunar transportation services for astronauts at the Moon.
"This strategy expedites progress toward a long-term, sustaining lander capability as early as the 2026 or 2027 timeframe," said Lisa Watson-Morgan, program manager for the Human Landing System Program at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. "We expect to have two companies safely carry astronauts in their landers to the surface of the Moon under NASA's guidance before we ask for services, which could result in multiple experienced providers in the market."
After the new draft solicitation is published, NASA will host a virtual industry day. Once comments and questions from the draft solicitation process have been reviewed, the agency plans by to issue the formal request for proposals this summer.
Astronaut Moon landers are a vital part of NASA's deep space exploration plans, along with the Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft, ground systems, and Gateway. NASA is committed to using a commercial astronaut lunar lander to carry the astronauts to the surface of the Moon, expanding exploration and preparing humanity for the next giant leap, human exploration of Mars.
Robert Pearlman Editor
Posts: 49076 From: Houston, TX Registered: Nov 1999
posted 09-16-2022 03:37 PM
NASA Pursues Astronaut Lunar Landers for Future Artemis Moon Missions
NASA is seeking proposals for sustainable lunar lander development and demonstration as the agency works toward a regular cadence of Moon landings. Through Artemis missions, NASA is preparing to return humans to the Moon, including the first woman and first person of color, for long-term scientific discovery and exploration.
Under the solicitation, Human Landing System Sustaining Lunar Development, NASA has provided requirements for companies interested in developing and demonstrating astronaut Moon landers. These efforts will pave the way for multiple companies to provide recurring Moon landing services beyond the Artemis III mission, which is planned for no earlier than 2025.
Companies selected under this contract will be required to perform one uncrewed and one crewed lunar landing demonstration. NASA will certify any lander system to meet its requirements prior to the crewed demonstration mission(s).
"Work done under this solicitation, in addition to current lander development and studies taking place, will help build the foundation for long-term deep space exploration," said Lisa Watson-Morgan, program manager for the Human Landing System Program at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. "Partnering with American companies to do that work now allows us to leverage NASA's knowledge and expertise to encourage technological innovations for a sustained presence at the Moon."
The final call for proposals comes after NASA incorporated industry feedback on the draft solicitation, released March 31, encouraging companies to send comments to help shape a key component of the agency's human exploration Artemis architecture. NASA also hosted a virtual industry day in April to present an overview of the solicitation and to provide companies an opportunity to ask clarifying questions and provide comments.
NASA's existing contract with SpaceX includes both an uncrewed and a crewed lunar landing demonstration that is part of the Artemis III mission, marking humanity's first return to the Moon in more than 50 years. The agency plans to exercise an option under this contract, known as Option B, asking the company to evolve its current Artemis III Starship Human Landing System design to meet an extended set of requirements for sustaining missions at the Moon and conduct another crewed demonstration landing.
These concurrent sustaining lander development efforts will meet NASA's needs for recurring, long-term access to the lunar surface, such as the ability to dock with Gateway for crew transfer, accommodate an increased crew size, and deliver more mass to the surface.
NASA's Artemis efforts include sending a suite of new science instruments and technology demonstrations to study the Moon, landing the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, and more. The agency will leverage its Artemis experiences and technologies to prepare for the next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.
Proposals for the sustainable lunar lander development and demonstration are due Nov. 15.