NASA has been hard at work on a number of projects in recent months, and a new task has surfaced. The space agency has received a privately-developed moon lander that will be analyzed, tested, and evaluated in the following weeks.
The mock-up model has a height of 12 meters, and it is one of the three moon landers that are being developed by the three companies who won a contract from NASA. This mock-up was manufactured by Blue Origin, a space technology company which is owned by the renowned Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Earlier in 2020, NASA announced that three companies were selected for the task of building a new lunar rover. The decision to handle the job to an external partner was surprising for some, but it will allow NASA to focus on other key aspects of the Artemis initiative.
Besides Blue Origin, SpaceX and Dynetics are also working on landers. SpaceX already enjoys an established reputation, as one of its capsules was used recently to transport American astronauts to and from the International Space Station without problems since the Space Shuttle Program was closed in 2011.
One of the landers will be selected to take astronauts to the surface of the moon in 2024. This is far from being the main goal of the Artemis mission, as NASA is also planning to establish a permanent base on the surface by 2028. The small-scale spaceport could be used to facilitate the launch of future long-distance missions, including crewed spacecraft to Mars.
While the version delivered by Blue Origin isn’t the final version of the lander, it does pack all the elements that have to pass the strict safety guidelines and checks imposed by NASA before any spacecraft is cleared for use and launch.
It is likely that NASA will share the results of the evaluation in the following months.