Throughout 2020, NASA has worked to bolster the Artemis Program through contract and appointments. The agency recently named the 18 astronauts that will serve as part of a team responsible for helping the agency prepare for Artemis deep-space missions including the planned moon landing in 2024.
The astronauts, which were selected based on eligibility for initial moon missions, will help NASA and its industry partners develop hardware requirements, crew training activities and technologies such as the human landing system. The team will also engage with the public in support of the Artemis program and future NASA missions.
Additionally, NASA awarded Blue Origin, Leidos’ Dynetics subsidiary and SpaceX have won 10-month contracts worth $967 million combined to design and build human landing systems for the Artemis missions. Blue Origin proposed a three-stage Integrated Lander Vehicle platform designed for the company’s New Glenn vehicle as well as United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket.
SpaceX will work on its Starship concept intended for the Super Heavy rocket, while Dynetics will create a structure designed for lunar ascent and descent activities as well as integration on the Vulcan rocket and Space Launch System.
Dynetics noted its HLS proposal is also meant to support week-long surface habitation and that the HLS award builds on its prior work supplying hardware for the SLS stages, Orion crew vehicle and International Space Station.
Moving forward, Bridenstine noted that the Artemis Program should continue to remain of importance to solidify the nation's position and competition in the space race.
“How do we build a program that can endure the test of time?” Bridenstine asked. “We need our Artemis program, we need our moon-to-Mars program, to span generations… We need to make sure that we’re leading the world in a return to the moon and on to Mars.”