NASA Selects Five U.S. Companies – Including SpaceX and Blue Origin – for Artemis Lunar Lander Concepts

Illustration of an Artemis astronaut stepping onto the Moon. Credit: NASA

NASA has selected five U.S. companies to help the agency enable a steady pace of crewed trips to the lunar surface under the agency’s Artemis program. These companies will make advancements toward sustainable human landing system concepts, conduct risk-reduction activities, and provide feedback on NASA’s requirements to cultivate industry capabilities for crewed lunar landing missions.

The awards under the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP-2) Appendix N broad agency announcement are firm fixed-price, milestone-based contracts. The total combined value for the awards is $146 million, and the work will be conducted over the next 15 months. The companies that received awards and their award values are:  

  • Blue Origin Federation of Kent, Washington, $25.6 million. 
  • Dynetics (a Leidos company) of Huntsville, Alabama, $40.8 million.
  • Lockheed Martin of Littleton, Colorado, $35.2 million.
  • Northrop Grumman of Dulles, Virginia, $34.8 million.
  • SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, $9.4 million.

“Establishing a long-term human presence on the Moon through recurring services using lunar landers is a major Artemis goal,” said Kathy Lueders, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at Headquarters in Washington. “This critical step lays the foundation for U.S. leadership in learning more about the Moon and for learning how to live and work in deep space for future missions farther into the solar system.”

SpaceX Starship Human Lunar Lander

Illustration of SpaceX Starship human lander design that may carry the first NASA astronauts to the surface of the Moon under the Artemis program. Credit: SpaceX

The selected companies will develop lander design concepts, evaluating their performance, design, construction standards, mission assurance requirements, interfaces, safety, crew health accommodations, and medical capabilities. The companies will also mitigate lunar lander risks by conducting critical component tests and advancing the maturity of key technologies.

The work from these companies will ultimately help shape the strategy and requirements for a future NASA’s solicitation to provide regular astronaut transportation from lunar orbit to the surface of the Moon.

“Collaboration with our partners is critical to achieving NASA’s long-term Artemis lunar exploration goals,” said Lisa Watson-Morgan, Human Landing System Program manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “By partnering with innovative U.S. companies, we will establish a robust lunar economy while exploring new areas of the Moon for generations to come.”

This opportunity is distinct from the initial crewed lunar landing demonstration mission awarded under the NextSTEP-2 Appendix H procurement, which will serve as the proof of concept for the Artemis architecture.

NASA’s goals under Artemis include enabling a safe and cost-efficient long-term approach to accessing the lunar surface and becoming one of multiple customers purchasing services in a lunar transportation market. Much of what the agency develops for the Moon will be applied to future exploration at Mars.

NASA’s Artemis missions include landing the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface, sending a suite of new science instruments and technology demonstrations to study the Moon, and establishing a long-term presence there.