NASA Selects Blue Origin to Develop Human Landing System for Artemis V Moon Mission.
NASA’s Sustainable Human Landing System Will Land Crew on the Moon for Artemis V
May 19, 2023 – NASA has awarded Sustainable Lunar Development (SLD) Contract to Blue Origin. Blue Origin’s National Team partners include Lockheed Martin, Draper, Boeing, Astrobotic, and Honeybee Robotics.
Lockheed Martin is on the team that has won a contract from NASA to develop and demonstrate a human landing system for the Artemis program under the agency’s Human Landing System program. The goal of the program is to rapidly develop a sustainable human lunar lander and perform a crewed demonstration flight to the lunar surface for Artemis V.
Under this contract, Blue Origin and its National Team partners will develop and fly both a lunar lander that can make a precision landing anywhere on the Moon’s surface and a cislunar transporter. These vehicles are powered by LOX-LH2. The high-specific impulse of LOX-LH2 provides a dramatic advantage for high-energy deep space missions. Nevertheless, lower-performing but more easily storable propellants (such as hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide as used on the Apollo lunar landers) have been favored for these missions because of the problematic boil-off of LOX-LH2 during their long mission timelines. Through this contract, we will move the state of the art forward by making high-performance LOX-LH2 a storable propellant combination. Under SLD, we will develop and fly solar-powered 20-degree Kelvin cryocoolers and the other technologies required to prevent LOX-LH2 boil-off. Future missions beyond the Moon, and enabling capabilities such as high-performance nuclear thermal propulsion, will benefit greatly from storable LH2. Blue Origin’s architecture also prepares for that future day when lunar ice can be used to manufacture LOX and LH2 propellants on the Moon.
Blue Origin and its partners are already at work and are excited to be on this journey with NASA.
“Congratulations to Blue Origin on this achievement. Lockheed Martin is excited to be part of Blue Origin’s National Team and we are looking forward to building humanity’s first Cislunar Transporter,” said Kirk Shireman, vice president of Lunar Exploration Campaigns at Lockheed Martin Space. “We value Blue Origin’s thoughtful approach to developing human-rated flight systems and are thrilled to be part of a diverse team that combines innovation, deep experience and a strong industrial base.”
NASA’s Artemis program is redefining how we explore deep space, and a sustainable human landing system program is key to extending our human presence away from Earth in a long-term way, which will greatly add to our scientific knowledge of the solar system.