KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — NASA has awarded SpaceX a $1.15 billion contract to develop an upgraded model of its Starship lunar lander and fly a second crewed mission.
NASA introduced Nov. 15 it accomplished a contract modification for what’s formally referred to as Possibility B of its Human Touchdown System (HLS) contract with SpaceX. Possibility B covers upgrades to the Starship lander initially chosen for HLS by NASA in April 2021 for $2.9 billion. The choice additionally features a second crewed demonstration touchdown mission.
“Persevering with our collaborative efforts with SpaceX via Possibility B furthers our resilient plans for normal crewed transportation to the lunar floor and establishing a long-term human presence below Artemis,” Lisa Watson-Morgan, NASA HLS program supervisor, stated in a press release. “This important work will assist us give attention to the event of sustainable, service-based lunar landers anchored to NASA’s necessities for often recurring missions to the lunar floor.”
NASA introduced its intent to train Possibility B in March when it unveiled its Sustaining Lunar Growth (SLD) effort to fund improvement of a second Artemis crewed lunar lander. SpaceX couldn’t compete for the SLD award, however NASA stated it will as an alternative train the choice in SpaceX’s unique HLS award to improve Starship for later Artemis missions that can carry extra astronauts and stay on the moon for longer intervals.
When NASA introduced its intent to train Possibility B, it was not clear when that second mission would fly. Nonetheless, company officers stated final month that the Possibility B mission could be Artemis 4, a mission that NASA beforehand deliberate to commit to work on the lunar Gateway and never embrace a touchdown. The lander chosen for improvement below SLD would fly its demonstration mission no sooner than Artemis 5.
SpaceX is constant preparations for a primary orbital launch try of Starship at its Boca Chica, Texas, check website. In a Nov. 14 static-fire check, SpaceX fired 14 of 33 Raptor engines within the automobile’s Tremendous Heavy booster, essentially the most ignited in a single check. Elon Musk, chief government of SpaceX, tweeted afterwards that the corporate would observe the check with a 20-second engine check, “probably yet another static hearth, then orbital launch try.”
At an Oct. 31 assembly of the NASA Advisory Council’s Human Exploration and Operations Committee, Mark Kirasich, deputy affiliate administrator for Artemis Marketing campaign Growth at NASA, stated the primary Starship orbital launch try might happen as quickly as early December. That schedule trusted each testing of the automobile in addition to receipt of a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration. He stated NASA was carefully following that upcoming check flight as one of many milestones within the improvement of the lunar lander model of Starship.
NASA is at the moment soliciting proposals for the second Artemis lander, with a Dec. 6 deadline. The company expects to make an award for that lander in June 2023.
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