The top U.S. Senate committee has asked NASA to choose a second company to build a new lunar lander under its Artemis program. For this, US agencies will have to deal with (small) budget extensions.
In April 2021, NASA announced that SpaceX would be its sole supplier of future lunar landers for the Artemis program, which aims to bring humans back to the moon within a decade. The decision was unexpected, as many expected the agency to choose two of the three companies positioned for the contract in support of the principle of competition. NASA then emphasized Lack of resources to support both teams.
NASA’s original decision to award the lunar lander’s construction and development contract to SpaceX alone also prompted an outcry from the two rival companies, Blue Origin and Dynetics, who didn’t hesitate to legally sue NASA. These ongoing operations have temporarily halted development of the lander program. Clearly, at least one of these two companies will prevail.
Senate wants second provider
On Tuesday, Oct. 18, the Senate Appropriations Committee, the largest U.S. Senate committee that oversees all discretionary spending legislation in the Senate, did ask NASA to choose a second company. (Translation: We want Blue Origin too.)
For this, a $100 million budget extension According to SpaceNews, it will be awarded to NASA. Finally, NASA should be able to ” Ensure redundancy and concurrency, including strong support for research, development, testing and evaluation of no less than two HLS teams“, which can be read in the report.
The report asked NASA to provide Congress with a plan detailing how to integrate the second team into its Artemis program.The plan must be submitted to Congress within thirty days of passage of the bill, and must also be Includes budget projections for the next few years until 2026.
Meanwhile, the program continues to fall behind schedule. NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) vehicle was scheduled to launch its first (unmanned) Artemis mission in November and won’t take off until next summer.
In fact, we should expect the rest of the calendar to change as well.The Artemis II mission, which sent the first astronauts to orbit the moon from the Apollo missions, may be in 2023/2024while the Artemis III mission, which will see humans once again set foot on our moons, won’t take place until at least 2025.