On Friday, NASA announced SpaceX will build a spacecraft that would land astronauts on the moon for the first time since the last Apollo mission. Officials said the targeted launch date is slated for 2024.
NASA officials said SpaceX was chosen because of its technical approach, cost and management approach.
Elon Musk’s company Space X beat out Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, who partnered with aerospace giants Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper, and Dynetics, a defense contractor based in Huntsville, Ala., the agency said.
The contract to build NASA’s next crewed lunar lander is worth nearly $3 billion, per the Washington Post.
According to media reports, NASA previously selected all three companies for the initial phase of the contract and was expected to pick two of them to build the lunar lander. NASA is known to choose “multiple providers to foster competition and to ensure it has redundancy in case one can’t deliver,” per the Washington Post.
With SpaceX as the sole provider, NASA is relying on the company on the execution of its signature human exploration program Artemis, a campaign to return astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972, per the Washington Post.
While NASA selected SpaceX for Option A, the manned return to the moon, the agency will ultimately ink future contracts for more human landing systems. This is an effort to make more regular and sustainable trips to the moon and back without relying solely on one company.
NASA officials said they plan to work with all of the industry to determine the best way to award contracts for future human landing systems.