Blue Origin announces a blue-chip team to return humans to the Moon

22 Octobre, 2019, 19:01 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Blue Origin Blue Moon lander

Blue Origin's so-called Blue Moon lunar lander, unveiled by Bezos in May, is in development and sits at the center of the space company's ambition to ferry humans into deep space and land key contracts from the USA space agency for space exploration.

In May, NASA announced it had asked 11 companies to carry out studies and produce prototypes of human landers for the Artemis program.

Blue Origin will serve as lead contractor for this new industry collaboration, which will also include Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper.

While collaborating with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper, Blue Origin as the prime contractor will lead program management, safety and mission assurance, mission engineering, and systems engineering, while providing the Descent Element that's based on creation of the Blue Moon lunar lander and its BE-7 engine. Lockheed Martin will develop a reusable "ascent element" and lead crewed flight operations.

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Bezos said Northrop Grumman, which built the lunar lander for the Apollo program a half-century ago, would be responsible for the orbital transfer vehicle that would take astronauts from a moon-orbiting Gateway platform to a lower lunar orbit. They'll focus on developing the Human Landing System that will be used to achieve this goal. The proposed three-part landing system fits nicely within the framework set by NASA, and is sized to be launched on commercial rockets-likely United Launch Alliance's Vulcan booster and Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket. "We look forward to safely and sustainably returning our nation to the surface of the moon by 2024".

The entire plan seems created to give NASA a plug-and-play approach to the lunar landing program.

Blue Origin's Blue Moon lander at IAC 2019.

Lockheed Martin has built numerous solar system probes for NASA and Mars robots. Bezos played a "greatest hits" video of New Shepard flights and touted the craft's BE-3 rocket engine. NASA will value such a mix of new and old companies. Lockheed's long-time competitor, Boeing, has not announced any specific lander plans.

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