Boeing and Jeff Bezos’ are competing to help NASA put humans back on the Moon
- Boeing has submitted its proposal for NASA's Artemis mission to land humans on the Moon.
- The world's largest aerospace company will be competing against Jeff Bezos' 'national team' that is also bidding to provide the landing gear for NASA's mission to the Moon.
- Boeing had developed a 'Fewest Steps to the Moon' approach for its lander.
It's not alone. Jeff Bezos' space technology company, Blue Origin, is also reportedly competing to design and develop the human lunar landing system for NASA and its Moon mission — Artemis.
Partnering with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper, Bezos announced the formation of "a national team for a national priority" to land Blue Moon on the lunar surface last month.
Both these bids will be in competition with each other and other companies. Proposals to build the lander to carry humans to the Moon was opened up to American companies because of Artemis' advanced deadline. The American government is aiming to "put humans back on the Moon" in 2024 rather than 2028.
According to the space agency, it would take it six to eight years for it to develop its own spaceflight hardware. And with the time crunch, "every word and requirement counts".
Cutting down steps to reach the Moon
"Using the lift capability of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) Block 1B, we have developed a 'Fewest Steps to the Moon' approach that minimizes mission complexity, while offering the safest and most direct path to the lunar surface," said Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Space and Launch for Boeing Defense, Space & Security.
According to the company, the lander's design allows for the fastest path to the Moon. Getting the lander to the Moon normally includes at least 11 maneuvers. But, Boeing claims its design cuts that down to five mission critical events. For instance, the lander can carry itself from the Moon's orbit to the surface — eliminating the need for the 'transfer stage' or 'space tug'.
Blue Origin's designs, on the other hand, do include a 'tug' stage of the landing. Northrop Gumman is in charge of that stage under the national team's bid. It's also worth mentioning that the company was formerly known as Grumman Aircraft before merging with Northrop Corporation — they helped build the original Apollo lunar lander.
Boeing also points out that its lander eliminates the need for an additional spacecraft. Its lander that can dock directly with the Gateway lunar orbiter or NASA's Orion — makes it easier to meet the 2024 deadline.
The company plans to exhibit the key technologies that go into its lander during the launch of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, which is scheduled to take off for the International Space Station (ISS) in December.
NASA called for proposals on September 30 and will announce it final decision in the coming months.
Boeing is a seasoned aerospace company in comparison to Blue Origin, which has only recently entered the space technology segment. But its partners have decades of experience building hardware for NASA.
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