NASA is preparing to establish a regular cadence of trips to the Moon under Artemis. To help the agency fine-tune its approach, NASA will award firm fixed-price, milestone-based contracts of up to $45 million for commercial-led work under a broad agency announcement released Thursday.
NASA is seeking new work to mature designs and conduct technology and engineering risk-reduction tasks for the human landing system (HLS), which will ferry Artemis astronauts from lunar orbit to the surface and back. Prior to opening the call for commercial space lunar transportation on a recurring basis, NASA is asking U.S. companies to hone HLS concepts and safety measures.
Companies awarded work under this research and development procurement, known as NextSTEP-2 Appendix N, will help NASA polish requirements for the future recurring services solicitation, which will secure regular crewed trips from Gateway in lunar orbit to the lunar surface and back.
“We are priming U.S. industry to become reliable service providers in the lunar marketplace,” said Greg Chavers, assistant deputy for Systems Engineering and Integration for human spaceflight at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Riding on American ingenuity, Artemis astronauts will explore new areas of the Moon, where we will unlock mysteries of the solar system for the benefit of all.”
NASA’s goal is to enable the safest and lowest cost long-term approach to accessing the lunar surface, and to be just one of multiple customers purchasing services in the lunar transportation market.
“The approach for recurring Moon landing services is truly a collective effort between NASA and U.S. Industry,” said Lisa Watson-Morgan, human landing system program manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “This announcement is a chance for the pioneering private sector to claim their stake in the emerging lunar economy and make history with NASA.”