SpaceX has reportedly received $2.9 billion to build a lunar lander as part of the Artemis mission to send humans to the Moon by 2024, the agency announced today. It’s a major vote of confidence in SpaceX from NASA as no other company received money. The contract between NASA and SpaceX is expected to be signed on May 1.
The SpaceX contract is for an uncrewed flight and a single crewed landing. Subsequent landings will be awarded under a follow-up procurement program. NASA said it would begin talking with the industry about the follow-up program next week.
There were three major contenders for the project. SpaceX beat out Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, working with a selection of other aerospace companies, and Dynetics, a defense contractor. NASA had previously rewarded all three contenders with a combined $967 million to develop lunar lander concepts.
In a NASA livestream Kathy Lauders, the associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate said: “The human landing system is going to allow us to be able to access different parts of the lunar surface. It also allows us to explore new technology and capabilities that will help us when we are trying to figure out our next round of technologies to be able to help us land on Mars or other planets out there.”
The Artemis mission will land the first woman on the Moon, as well as the first person of color.