Blue Origin assembles lunar lander dream team to woo NASA


Lockheed Martin has been working on its own lunar lander concept for NASA's use, but chose to join forces with Blue Origin for the Appendix H proposal - partly because the timeline for a 2024 landing is so tight.

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 USA astronauts on the lunar surface as part of the Artemis mission, planned in theory for 2024.

SpaceX didn't respond immediately to questions Tuesday about whether it plans to compete with Blue Origin's team for the NASA contract.

Lockheed Martin announced their planned lunar lander based on the design of the Orion aircraft in April while Blue Origin showed off their plans in May, including a new engine which was designed specifically for it.

Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin will be developing the "Ascent Element" vehicle and Northrop Grumman is building the "Transfer Element" to get the whole landing element Blue Origin is providing in place towards the Moon.

Draper, which worked on avionics for Apollo, would work on the descent guidance system and flight avionics.

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"National challenges call for a national response", says Bob Smith, CEO, Blue Origin.

Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress in Washington, Bezos announced the "national team", of which his Blue Origin would be the prime contractor (naturally).

The four companies, with Blue Origin as the lead contractor, plan to submit a proposal for the lander to NASA under its Artemis lunar programme, an accelerated mission to the moon kickstarted in March by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

Once Blue Moon arrives at its destination, it uses machine learning algorithms to land with precision on the lunar surface. "We're going back to the moon to stay".

Blue Origin will be leading the entire project while Lockheed Martin will be training and leading the flight controllers who will be managing the lander in space.

The alliance seeks to combine experience in space flight, launch vehicles, planetary applications, deep space and orbital logistics in a bid to help NASA address manned lunar program goals. Lockheed built NASA's Orion capsule, which is an alternative vehicle that still might be used in lunar missions. They are experts in life support systems, so to have their expertise on the ascent element is a really big deal. Said the Vice President of Blue Origin at the press conference. Draper, in turn, is no stranger to Moon missions when it built the guidance computer for the Apollo program. It's the "fastest and safest way ... the most economical way", he said.