NASA Picks Bezos' Blue Origin To Build Moon Lander
On Friday, the US space agency NASA announced it had awarded a $3.4B contract to Jeff Bezos' rocket company Blue Origin to build a lunar lander for its Artemis program scheduled to launch in 2029.
- On Friday, the US space agency NASA announced it had awarded a $3.4B contract to Jeff Bezos' rocket company Blue Origin to build a lunar lander for its Artemis program scheduled to launch in 2029.1
- The contract requires Blue Origin to conduct an uncrewed demonstration flight to the Moon prior to the launch, followed by a crewed voyage that would take astronauts for "about a weeklong trip to the Moon's South Pole region."2
- Named Blue Moon, the 50-foot-tall spacecraft is designed to fit within the 23-foot-wide diameter of Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket and can reportedly transport four astronauts to the Moon's surface.3
- The program is estimated to cost more than $7B, with Bezos' company contributing "well north" of $3.4B...to get to not only this mission but to ensure permanence." Blue Origin will develop its lunar lander alongside partners Lockheed Martin, Draper, Boeing, Astrobotic, and Honeybee Robotics.4
- The announcement came after NASA awarded Elon Musk's SpaceX a $2.89B contract in 2021 to develop a similar lunar lander that would carry two astronauts to the Moon's surface.5
- "Adding another human landing system partner to NASA's Artemis program will increase competition and reduce costs to taxpayers," NASA said, adding it can provide "more robustness and ensure a regular cadence of Moon landings."6
Sources: 1Wall Street Journal, 2Verge, 3New York Times, 4CNN, 5Al Jazeera, and 6NASA.
- Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Wired. NASA is on course to return astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972, including the first woman. As part of a long-term plan for a Moon-to-Mars exploration in the next 20 years, the Artemis project is an exciting test to see how close humanity is to reaching much further than the Moon in the decades to come. The Moon's proximity to Earth makes it a great testbed of technologies required for deep space exploration.
- Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by CNET. While it may argue a Moon platform will teach humanity how to stay alive longer and go farther, in reality, all NASA's Artemis Moon Mission will do is protect the budgets of its contractors. Although it's a colossal waste of taxpayers' money, which has little to no direct impact on everyday Americans' lives, the agency is playing for wider public support by dangling the promise of groundbreaking advances with minorities crewing future missions.
- Cynical narrative, as provided by Scientific American. There is a difference between exploration, colonization, and commercialization. NASA's Moon Mission is just another form of government-subsidized capitalism to share the control of a potential mining outpost in space with billionaires. There is officially a new Moon race, which raises tricky questions about who owns lunar resources.