NASA announced that new contracts have been signed with five companies to enhance the Artemis Program, through an appendix of the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP-2) initiative, with value total of US$ 660 million. Thus, the companies covered will develop new concepts of landing modules for the program, so that, in the future, NASA can define the strategy and requirements for transporting astronauts from the lunar orbit to the surface.
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According to information from NASA, the contracts allocated US$ 26, 4 million for Blue Origin, US$ 40, 8 million to Dynetics, US$ 35, 2 million to Lockheed Martin, US $34,8 million for Northrop Grumman and $9.4 million for SpaceX. It is worth remembering that these new contracts are different from the one signed between NASA and SpaceX at the beginning of the year for the development of the Human Landing System (HLS), the lunar module that will take astronauts to the surface of the Moon — and which led to legal disputes between Blue Origin and the space agency.
The objectives of the NextSTEP-2 initiative describe the involvement of potential trading partners for conceptual studies, supporting the concept of development of HLS operations both on the ground and in flight. In other words, this means that the companies involved will develop lander concepts with test components and improve them in some aspects, such as performance and security.
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Lisa Watson-Morgan, manager NASA’s HLS program highlighted the importance of collaboration between the space agency and partners to achieve the long-term lunar exploration goals proposed by the Artemis program. “By forging partnerships with innovative companies in the United States, we will establish a robust lunar economy while exploring new areas of the Moon for future generations”, he commented. linked to NASA’s future strategies, it is likely that this new wave of partnerships will also end up defining future contracts for the development of landers until the end of this decade.
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