SpaceX to the Moon, NASA Awards HLS Contract

Space Coast, FL – NASA announced, yesterday, their selection of the Human Landing System (HLS). They have awarded Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) to go ahead with the development of the first commercial human lander. It will safely carry the next two humans to the lunar surface, since the Apollo program.

The solid-fixed price and milestone-based contract total award value is $2.89 billion.

SpaceX HLS Starship illustration on the Lunar Surface
Latest illustration of SpaceX Starship human lander design | Image: SpaceX

"With this award, NASA and our partners will complete the first crewed demonstration mission to the surface of the Moon in the 21st century as the agency takes a step forward for women’s equality and long-term deep space exploration, This critical step puts humanity on a path to sustainable lunar exploration and keeps our eyes on missions farther into the solar system, including Mars.”

- Kathy Lueders, NASA's associate administrator for Human Explorations and Operations Mission Directorate

Human Landing System

SpaceX has been working next to NASA experts over the HLS base period of performance to advise its lander design and ensure it meets requirements and human spaceflight standards. A key principle for safe systems, these agreed-upon standards range from areas of engineering, safety, health, and medical technical areas.

SpaceX’s HLS Starship, designed to land on the Moon, leans on the company’s tested Raptor engines and flight heritage of the Falcon and Dragon vehicles. It includes a spacious cabin and two airlocks for astronaut moonwalks. The architecture of Starship is intended to evolve to a fully reusable launch and landing system. It will be designed for travel to the Moon, Mars, and other destinations.

NextSTEP-2

The HLS award is made under the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP-2) Appendix H Broad Agency Announcement (BAA).

Artist's rendering of an ascent vehicle separating from a descent vehicle and departing the lunar surface
Artist's rendering of an ascent vehicle separating from a descent vehicle and departing the lunar surface |
Image: NASA

At the same time with executing the Appendix H award, NASA plans to put in a competitive procurement for sustainable crewed lunar surface transportation services that will provide human access to the lunar surface using the Gateway on a regularly recurring basis further on the initial crewed demonstration mission.

Congratulations to SpaceX on the sole contract award. Here's to a sustained life presence on a out-of-this-world body.

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