SpaceX Sole Winner in NASA’s HLS Moon Lander Program: Report

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk ceremoniously raises his arms beneath a prototype Starship rocket under construction in Boca Chica, Texas.

Steve Jurvetson on flickr

Elon Musk’s SpaceX knocked out teams led by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Leidos subsidiary Dynetics to win a nearly $ 3 billion contract to build NASA’s next manned lunar lander, the Washington Post reported Friday.

NASA awarded the three teams $ 967 million last year and a 10-month contract to begin work on the Lunar Lander concepts as part of its Human Landing Systems (HLS) program. SpaceX received the lowest amount of the three at $ 135 million. Meanwhile, Dynetics received $ 253 million and Blue Origin received $ 579 million.

SpaceX’s contract for this latest competition is worth $ 2.9 billion, The Post reported, citing a document on the selection of NASA sources.

NASA was expected to select two of the three teams, which makes SpaceX’s sole selection surprising given the agency’s previous goals for the program to continue to be a competition.

For the HLS program, Musk’s company offered a variation of its Starship rocket, prototypes of which SpaceX has tested at its development facility in Boca Chica, Texas. The company has had several successful Starship test flights to date, though attempts to land after the last four soaring have resulted in a multitude of fiery explosions.

HLS is part of NASA’s Artemis mission to land astronauts on the moon by 2024.

The mission was announced by the administration of President Donald Trump. President Joe Biden’s press secretary has indicated that the current administration expects to proceed with Artemis.

Bezos’ space company announced plans to build a manned lunar lander in 2019 and announced that it would partner with industry giants Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper in the effort. Leidos’ own Dynetics teamed up with the Sierra Nevada Corporation for their concept and was seen as a dark horse in the race.

NASA plans to make an announcement about the HLS program later on Friday, the agency’s acting administrator Steve Jurczyk said earlier in the day.

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