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NASA selects 11 space companies to build human lunar landers
NASA wants to put astronauts on the Moon by 2024.
NASA has shortlisted 11 firms including Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin to build prototypes of human landers for its Artemis lunar exploration mission. The space agency aims to put the first woman on the Moon's south pole by 2024 and continue with more advanced missions in 2028.
"To accelerate our return to the Moon, we are challenging our traditional ways of doing business. We will streamline everything from procurement to partnerships to hardware development and even operations," said Marshall Smith, director for human lunar exploration programs at NASA.
Apart from the two major private companies, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Sierra Nevada Corporation among others have also been selected by the US space agency.
"Our team is excited to get back to the Moon as quickly as possible, and our public/private partnerships to study human landing systems are an important step in that process," Smith added.
These companies will closely study and build prototypes during the next six months. The prime aim is to reduce schedule risk, transfer, and refueling elements of a potential human landing.
NASA's plan is to send astronauts in a human landing spacecraft that includes transfer element for the journey from the lunar Gateway to low-lunar orbit. NASA wants to send astronauts to the Moon and then to the Red Planet in a sustainable way.
Trump has already announced that $1.6 billion will be added to NASA's budget "so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!" said Jim Bridenstine, NASA Admin.
"Under my Administration, we are restoring @NASA to greatness and we are going back to the Moon, then Mars," the tweet read.
Recently, NASA has 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.