Blue Origin bags $3.4 billion NASA contract to land humans on the moon

Blue Origin and its National Team partners will develop a human landing system powered by LOX-LH2 capable of recurring missions and docking with Gateway, a space station where crew transfer.
Amal Jos Chacko
Illustration of an astronaut on the moon.jpg
Illustration of an astronaut on the moon.


Two years after losing out to SpaceX and Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin has now won a NASA contract to develop a human landing system for the Artemis project.

Artemis, named after the Greek goddess and twin sister of Apollo, is NASA’s moon exploration program aiming to put humans back on the moon for the first time since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

NASA intends to accomplish multiple goals with the Artemis series of missions, with the Artemis II mission scheduled to take astronauts around the moon in 2024. Missions Artemis III and later— the first of which is charted to take off in 2024— will be crewed missions to the Moon, and are expected to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon.

Blue Origin will design, develop, test, and verify its Blue Moon lander to satisfy NASA’s human landing system requirements for the Artemis V mission, as part of the new contract valued at $3.4 billion.

“Today we are excited to announce Blue Origin will build a human landing system as NASA’s second provider to deliver Artemis astronauts to the lunar surface,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “We are in a golden age of human spaceflight, which is made possible by NASA’s commercial and international partnerships. Together, we are making an investment in the infrastructure that will pave the way to land the first astronauts on Mars.”

Partnering with commercial and international private entities is expected to reduce costs to taxpayers while uncompromising the agency’s goals of regular lunar landings and investments in the lunar economy.

Blue Origin bags $3.4 billion NASA contract to land humans on the moon
A rendering of Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lander that will return astronauts to the Moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program.

Bezos' "most important work"

Blue Origin previously lost out to Elon Musk’s SpaceX to demonstrate an initial human landing system for the Artemis III and IV missions. Blue Origin will develop a lander that meets similar requirements and supports an increased crew size, longer mission duration, and delivery of more mass to the Moon.

“Having two distinct lunar lander designs, with different approaches to how they meet NASA’s mission needs, provides more robustness and ensures a regular cadence of Moon landings,” Lisa Watson-Morgan, manager, Human Landing System Program at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama said.

Bezos, since stepping down as Amazon CEO, has focused most of his attention on Blue Origin, “the most important work” he’s doing, according to him.

Blue Origin, along with its National Team partners, will power the lunar lander with liquid oxygen-liquid hydrogen (LOX-LH2), a high-performance propellant requiring storage at very low temperatures.

To meet these conditions, Blue Origin will develop and fly solar-powered 20-degree Kelvin cryocoolers and other technologies and reap the benefits LOX-LH2 provides.

This article was written and edited by a human, with the assistance of Generative AI tools. Find out more about our policy on AI-powered writing here.

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