Last week, NASA quietly postponed its plan to award two monthly landing contracts to a large crew, pushing the finish line back two months for a critical program according to the administration’s accelerated schedule. Trump will bring astronauts to the moon in 2024. With short funding from Congress and a new administration focused on the most pressing national issues, the move was expected.
The SpaceX team by Elon Musk, a team of space giants led by Blue Origin and Jeff Dynetics owned by Leidos, was awarded by Jeff Bezos a total of $ 967 million in initial NASA funding last year to develop competing concepts for a human lunar landing system. This is the space agency’s first effort to spend money on landing Apollo astronauts on the surface of the Moon in the 1970s.
Last Wednesday, NASA told the three contractors that “an extension of development contracts will be necessary”, by selecting a new contract award date of April 30th. According to the Trump administration program, the agency had planned to select two of the three bidders in late February, and awarded a seal of approval for two systems that would inevitably draw people to the moon.
The delay was almost certain: the spending bill passed by Congress in December gave NASA $ 850 million for the Human Landing System program, which is far less than the $ 3.2 billion it needs to complete the 2024 program. NASA has been operating as of the February grant date, like 2024 did. Delays are also expected, as Biden’s team delays the launch of any space policy and focuses more on climate change and fighting the pandemic, making the long-term fate of NASA’s Artemis program uncertain.
Now, NASA says the delay is designed to give it more time to evaluate bidders’ proposals and “maintain the capacity for a smooth transition” of the development phase, but added that it may not take some time. Full extension and landing contracts can be awarded. Before. NASA said the extension gives companies more time to design and develop their landing gear systems.
The terrain for SpaceX’s monthly landing to NASA is Starship, a fully reusable 16-story vehicle that the company launched that landed on short sub-orbital test flights – called “jumps” – in Boca Chica, Texas. The company’s development funds were $ 135 million.
Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin took home the biggest prize, $ 579 million, for developing the Lander Blue Moon. The company announced a “national team in 2019 consisting of Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper to work on the project. Dynetics raised $ 253 million for the landing craft and entered into a partnership with the Sierra Nevada Corp.”
The Biden administration has yet to elect a NASA administrator or launch space policy goals, but it is expected to slow Artemis’ race on the moon to 2024 – which was once widely considered unrealistic. This month the administration announced its team at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and elected pioneering geneticist Eric Lander as Biden’s lead advisor.
NASA President Jim Bridenstein left his post on opening day after serving in 2018 and creating the Artemis program. Ladder of control over the agency no. 2, Steve Gurchick, Acting Interim Director.
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