Amid political uncertainty, NASA pushes ahead toward 2024 Moon landing

Artist's concept of a lunar lander.

Enlarge / Artist’s concept
of a lunar lander. (credit: NASA)

Although NASA’s plans to land humans on the Moon by 2024 face

some political headwinds
, the space agency has taken its first
concrete step toward making its ambitions a reality.

On Thursday,
the space agency chose
11 companies to develop concepts and
prototypes for its lunar lander. The companies chosen for the
awards, a total of $45.5 million for all contracts, include a mix
of aerospace bluebloods such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin, premier
new space firms like SpaceX and Blue Origin, and smaller companies
like Masten Space Systems. The companies have six months to
complete their work.

The awards cover design work for two of the three components of
NASA’s proposed “Human Landing System.” As presently envisioned,
NASA’s plan for landing humans on the Moon will involve a
“transfer” vehicle to carry the lander from a Gateway in a high
orbit above the Moon down to low-lunar orbit, a “descent” vehicle
to carry the crew down to the surface, and then an “ascent” vehicle
to separate from the descent module and ferry the astronauts back
into low-lunar orbit.

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Source: FS – All – Science – News
Amid political uncertainty, NASA pushes ahead toward 2024 Moon landing