NASA Orders Cargo Optimized Versions of the SpaceX and Blue Origin Lunar Landers

NASA Orders Cargo Optimized Versions of the SpaceX and Blue Origin Lunar Landers

NASA tells Blue Origin and SpaceX to start detailed designing of cargo versions of their human lunar landers. NASA always had the option to get cargo versions of the lunar landers in the original contracts. NASA is now exercising those options to get cargo landers designs to an approved preliminary design review.

The actual sizes of the SpaceX and Blue Origin lunar landers are in the image below.

The preliminary design requirements include delivering 12 to 15 metric tons to the lunar surface. The cargo lunar landers will be very similar to the human crewed lunar landers.

The European Space Agency is designing Argonaut, a cargo lander that ESA is proposing to offer for future Artemis missions. Argonaut, as currently designed, would carry about two metric tons of cargo, far less than what NASA is proposing with the cargo HLS variants.

NASA selected the two companies, along with three others, in the second round of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program in November 2019. SpaceX offered Starship, which the company said at the time could deliver up to 100 metric tons to the lunar surface, while Blue Origin offered its original cargo version of its Blue Moon lander, capable of taking several metric tons to the moon.

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