Richest man, aerospace giants team up for moon landing contract

Updated October 23, 2019

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Jeff Bezos, the founder of Blue Origin and the richest man in the world, announced on Tuesday a partnership with three of the biggest names in aerospace to bid on a Nasa contract for a Moon lander. — AFP/File
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Blue Origin and the richest man in the world, announced on Tuesday a partnership with three of the biggest names in aerospace to bid on a Nasa contract for a Moon lander. — AFP/File

WASHINGTON: Jeff Bezos, the founder of Blue Origin and the richest man in the world, announced on Tuesday a partnership with three of the biggest names in aerospace to bid on a Nasa contract for a Moon lander.

Bezos said his company was teaming up with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper on the proposal to build what they call a “Human Landing System” that will land two US astronauts on the lunar surface as part of the Artemis mission, planned in theory for 2024.

Blue Origin, as prime contractor, would provide the “descent element” vehicle based on its Blue Moon lunar lander that it announced in May.

Lockheed Martin is responsible for the reusable “ascent element” vehicle, and would lead crewed flight operations and training.

Northrop Grumman provides the “transfer element” vehicle that would help bring Blue Moon down to the Moon from a future space station in lunar orbit, called Gateway. Draper would lead descent guidance and flight avionics.

Lockheed Martin has built numerous solar system probes for Nasa and Mars robots. Northrop Grumman built the lunar module of the Apollo era, while Draper provided its guidance computers.

Together, the four companies will respond to Nasa’s call for tenders on Nov 1.

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2019