Eleven aerospace companies will provide more than $ 45 million from NASA to design and test prototypes for the Artemis Moon missions, the agency said. Among the established names, such as Northrop Grumman and Sierra Nevada, are relative newcomers SpaceX and Blue Origin, who want to place themselves on the biggest push of the agency for decades.
The funds are to allow what NASA calls undefined contract actions, in which the partners can work before the negotiations on the remainder of the contract are completed. It basically shows that time is critical and that NASA is prepared to make an upfront payment to someone with whom they may not even have a contract in order to get a point of reference for the work to be done.
And what does the work look like? They will work out designs and prototypes for the Human Landing System that will bring astronauts (and cosmonauts, and perhaps taikonons) from a high lunar orbit to a low, then to the surface, and then back again. The three elements are transfer, descent and ascent ̵
Every company has a number of specific mechanisms or constructions that are expected to be produced, but none will make up the whole shebang.
"We are keen to gather early industrial feedback on our human land system requirements, and the undefined contract action will help us," said Greg Chavers of NASA in a press release. "This new approach does not dictate a particular design or set of elements for the human land system. NASA needs the system to bring our astronauts to the surface and bring them home safely, and we leave a lot of details to our trading partners. "
In other words, this is still a phase of information gathering for NASA. Although contractors have to take this as a potential first step in making an important system for Artemis, they can not do it in half.
None of the companies have been rendering planning for the Ascender, which suggests the plans for This part is not as advanced as the rest. SpaceX will create a Descent Element Study, while Blue Origin will provide Descent and Transfer Element studies as well takes over a prototype for the latter.
We Will Probably Never See These Prototypes or Studies Soon – if they are not selected for production, they may remain trade secrets to future bids, or NASA may change their minds. Even if they are selected, they may need to go through several iterations before they can be publicly displayed.
Here is the full list of companies and their responsibilities under the new funding:
- Aerojet Rocketdyne – Canoga Park, California
- A Transfer Vehicle Study
- Blue Origin – Kent, Washington
- A descent element study, a transfer vehicle study and a transfer vehicle prototype
- Boeing – Houston
- A Descent Element Study, Two Descent Element Prototypes, One Transfer Vehicle Study, One Transfer Vehicle Prototype, One Refueling Element Study, and One Refueling Prototype
- Dynetics – Huntsville, Alabama
- A study of descent and five prototypes of descent
- Lockheed Martin – Littleton, Colorado
- A study with descent elements, four prototypes with descent elements, a study with transfer vehicles and a study with refueling elements.
- Masts Space Systems – Mojave, California
- Prototype of a Descent Element
- Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems – Dulles, Virginia
- A Descent Element Study, Four Descent Element Prototypes, Refueling Element Study, and Fueling Element Prototype
- OrbitBeyond – Edison, New Jersey
- Two refueling prototypes
- Sierra Nevada Corporation, Louisville, Colorado and Madison, Wisconsin
- A descent element study, a descent prototype, a transfer vehicle study, a transfer vehicle prototype, and a refueling study
- SpaceX – Hawthorne, California
- Study with a Descent
- SSL – Palo Alto, California
- A tank element study and a tank prototype