In the end, NASA will have to choose two companies for its lander

The Human Landing System (HLS), a new twist on the Artemis program’s lander. The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, which administers all of the country’s discretionary spending laws, did ask NASA to select two companies to develop the spacecraft that will put the next Americans on the moon.

NASA chooses SpaceX

To be sure, this won’t quell the enthusiasm between Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. Initially, NASA pre-selected SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynetics for its lander. The agency ultimately settled on the Starship rocket developed by SpaceX, especially given the attractive price the company offered. It should indeed be remembered that Congress’ approval of NASA’s budget was tighter than expected, especially since the country faces a major crisis in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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SpaceX’s unique choice surprised everyone, and NASA has a habit of choosing two partners, as was the case with the Commercial Crew program, where SpaceX and Boeing were chosen. Stung, Dynetics and Blue Origin appealed, but Jeff Bezos’ company didn’t stop there. While the billionaire himself wrote NASA a letter that it would receive a $2 billion rebate if it chose the Blue Moon lander, the company also filed a lawsuit in U.S. federal court.

SpaceX hangar.

Until then, SpaceX was the only company selected by NASA. Photography: Jérôme Boursier/Unsplash

Senate needs two partners, not just one

It appears the Senate has heard Blue Origin’s arguments. On Monday, Oct. 18, senators on the Appropriations Committee, the largest committee in the U.S. Senate, released a draft appropriation bill to manage NASA’s fiscal 2022 budget, which is $24.83 billion, slightly more than the $24.8 billion the latter requested. It also includes an additional $100 million in funding for HLS, according to trade channels. space net.

Using this funding, NASA is expected to provide redundancy and concurrency to no fewer than two HLS teams, including robust research, development, testing and evaluation support.Committee expects real investment in development, not additional research “The text says.

If the preliminary version is accepted, NASA will therefore have to go back and ultimately choose a second company… Surely, the news makes Jeff Bezos smile. However, it’s hard to know how the agency will get out of the woods: The landers provided by Dynetics and Blue Origin cost $9 billion and $5.9 billion, respectively. So the proposed 100 million increase for a human landing system seems very insignificant.

One thing’s for sure, these repeated plan changes won’t help NASA achieve its 2024 goal of returning to the moon.

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