NASA Shortlists Three Companies To Develop Moon Landers

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NASA has shortlisted the first three commercial firms that will carry its equipment to the Moon during its setup for a human landing in 2024. The space agency has chosen Astrobotic, Intuitive Machines, and Orbit Beyond for this job.

NASA Shortlists Three Companies To Develop Moon Landers

 

These companies with be building moon landers that will carry science equipment and technology demonstration to the surface of the moon. This will also mark as the first step of NASA's ambitious Artemis project to send human back to the lunar surface in 2024.

When Does It Begin

The first mission, by Orbit Beyond, is slated for a September 2020 launch. The other two will happen in 2021. "This is truly exciting, a new way for us at NASA to do business," said Thomas Zurbuchen, the head of NASA's science mission directorate.

"We cannot wait to do the science that we want to do with instruments that we're developing right now - science that in many cases even five years ago we didn't know how to ask questions about. This is how urgent this is," he added.

All three companies will ferry NASA's payloads that are either required for research on the moon or to test new technology that the astronauts will use during advanced space missions.

The Funding

The space agency will be providing $79.5 million to Astrobotic, $77 million to Intuitive Machines and $97 million to Orbit Beyond to start building their landers. NASA is yet to confirm which payloads will be carried by which lander; it will be revealed later this year.

Astrobics has already confirmed its Peregrine lander will ferry up to 14 payloads for NASA as well as 14 experiments for other customers. Intuitive Machines, on the other hand, will carry five payloads and Orbit Beyond will carry four payloads

Project Artemis

Last month, NASA announced that its mission to put a female astronaut on the Moon by 2024 is named Artemis, after the Greek Goddess of the Moon and god Apollo's twin sister.

 

"The first woman will be an American on the surface of the moon in five years," said Jim Bridenstine, chief administrator, NASA. "That is an extreme declaration and a charge that we are going to live up to at NASA."

With NASA planning to send a female astronaut to moon, it is evident that women are at the forefront of the agency's space ambitions.

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