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NASA chooses SpaceX, Blue Origin and 9 other firms for moon-lander research

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos speaks in front of a mock-up of Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lunar lander May 9 in Washington.
(Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)

As part of the push to land U.S. astronauts on the moon by 2024, NASA said Thursday it selected 11 companies — including SpaceX and Blue Origin — to conduct further research and development on lunar landers.

The total contract award for all 11 companies is $45.5 million. NASA said the companies, which have projects including studies on potential vehicles and refueling elements and development of prototypes, must pay at least 20% of the total project cost.

The amount of each company’s award varies depending on their proposals, a NASA spokeswoman said.

Hawthorne-based SpaceX will conduct a study on a descent spacecraft capable of carrying astronauts to the moon’s surface, while Aerojet Rocketdyne will research a craft that could transfer humans from the proposed lunar gateway to low-lunar orbit.

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Jeff Bezos-led Blue Origin will work on descent and transfer spacecraft and a prototype of that transfer vehicle. Last week, Bezos unveiled a mock-up of his company’s Blue Moon lunar lander, which he said would be ready to carry humans by 2024.

Other awardees include Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp. and Masten Space Systems in Mojave, Calif.

In March, Vice President Mike Pence announced that the Trump administration wanted to return to the moon and land humans on the surface within five years. NASA has said it wants to work with commercial companies to develop a landing system.


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