NASA will be giving another company a chance to shoot a lander to the moon, nearly a time after the agency blazoned that SpaceX beat out challengers including Blue Origin and Boeing for the occasion.
Under the new plan, the agency will be opening up an alternate competition for a lander system for all American companies other than SpaceX, with the end of having an alternate lender prepared to fly by 2026 or 2027. The winner of that alternate contract dubbed the Sustaining Lunar Development contract, along with SpaceX “ will pave the way to unborn recreating lunar transportation services for astronauts at the Moon,” NASA said.
This isn’t just good news for challengers. The agency also said that it’s expanding its being contract with SpaceX for yet another lander, which will fly a fresh crewed demonstration charge in the ultimate part of the decade.
NASA’s advertisement Wednesday marks a major expansion for the Artemis program, the agency’s ambitious series of planned operations to return humans to the moon for the first time since the Apollo days.
It’s also a commodity of an about-face. The agency came under fire from both private assiduity and Congress after it awarded a single$2.89 billion contract for a wharf system to SpaceX last April, with Blue Origin going so far as to sue NASA in civil court. (This was after the company and defense contractor Dynetics filed an expostulation — which was latterly dismissed — with a government responsibility watchdog.) But this time around, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said the agency was each about fostering competition.
“ We suppose, and so does the Congress, that competition leads to better, more dependable issues and benefits everybody,” he said. “ It benefits NASA, (it) benefits the American people. It’s egregious, the benefits of competition.”
The agency will release a draft request for proffers at the end of the month, HLS program director Lisa Watson-Morgan told journalists Wednesday. That will be followed by a final request for proffers latterly in the spring, which will be open to all American companies besides SpaceX.
So far, NASA is staying mute on how much all of this is likely to bring, beyond that it’ll be a fixed-price contract — which is significant, as the agency said the reason it named only one endeavor for the wharf system last time was incompletely due to popular constraints. Further details on the value of the contract will be a coming week after President Biden announces the financial time 2023 budget, Nelson added.
“ We ’re waiting to have both Congress (‘s) support and that of the Biden administration,” he said.