NASA’s partnership with Blue Origin for the Artemis V mission signifies a new era in lunar exploration, with innovative technology addressing historic challenges
NASA is reaching for the stars, more specifically the moon, with their latest move. The agency has awarded a significant contract to Blue Origin, the spaceflight company founded by Jeff Bezos. This contract will pave the way for future lunar landings, as part of the exciting Artemis V mission set to take place in 2029.
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The game-changing contract
Under the contract, worth $3.4 billion, Blue Origin will develop a lunar landing system that will be used to land astronauts on the moon for recurring expeditions. Notably, this will involve the design, development, testing, and verification of their Blue Moon lander. “Today we are excited to announce Blue Origin will build a human landing system as NASA’s second provider to deliver Artemis astronauts to the lunar surface,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
Pushing the boundaries of propulsion
Blue Origin is not only charged with developing the landing system but also resolving a historical obstacle in space missions – the boil-off problem associated with LOX-LH2 propellant. The high-specific impulse of LOX-LH2 offers an advantage for deep space missions. However, its storage during long mission timelines has been a challenge due to boil-off. Blue Origin plans to push the state of the art forward by making LOX-LH2 a storable propellant combination.
Artemis V: peek into the future of lunar exploration
The Artemis V mission marks a crucial point in lunar exploration. It showcases NASA’s initial lunar exploration capabilities and lays the groundwork for future complex missions. Two astronauts will travel to the Moon’s South Pole region, where they’ll conduct science and exploration activities for a week.
Growing a lunar economy and expanding access to space
This partnership will also bolster the burgeoning lunar economy and reduce costs for taxpayers. It is hoped that competition will be increased, supporting a regular cadence of lunar landings. Lisa Watson-Morgan, manager, Human Landing System Program at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, said, “This competitive approach drives innovation, brings down costs, and invests in commercial capabilities to grow the business opportunities that can serve other customers and foster a lunar economy.”
Charting the course for deep space exploration
The collaboration with Blue Origin is a significant step towards realizing NASA’s deep space exploration aspirations. It not only signifies the possibility of regular lunar landings but also opens up the potential for crewed missions to Mars. This partnership is a significant milestone in human spaceflight, marking the beginning of a golden age.