NASA has tapped Blue Origin, the aerospace company founded by Jeff Bezos, to build a lunar lander to send astronauts to the Moon in 2024–part of the Space Agency’s Artemis program to return humans to the lunar surface.
This is the first time in 50 years that NASA is building its own spacecraft to transport astronauts to the lunar surface. Blue Origin will design, develop and build a Human Landing System (HLS) for the Artemis 5 mission, which begins the sequence of crewed missions to land astronauts on the Moon.
This announcement follows NASA’s recent award to SpaceX (also founded by Bezos) to build the agency’s Starship spacecraft.
Bezos has been working on the Blue Origin spacecraft for more than a decade, and has spoken publicly about his passion for human space exploration and his plans to expand into lunar robotics.
The HLS will be an integrated system, meaning all the elements necessary for a mission to the Moon—the spacecraft, lander, and a descent vehicle—will be provided by Blue Origin.
The specifics of the system have not yet been released. Blue Origin has already tested the engines and propulsion systems for the HLS several times in the past, and the company says it has the technology and safety measures in place for a successful mission to the Moon.
The HLS is expected to be ready for flight testing by 2021, with the first crewed mission set to launch in 2024. This marks an important step in terms of space exploration and the future of humanity, as we look to the Moon to build a sustainable base for space exploration.