In anticipation of the anniversary of SpaceX’s victory as the company that will send human landers to the moon, NASA announces a new competition for a second contract. Last year’s winner will not be competing for the contract this time, paving the way for other US companies to win the opportunity to develop a new lander system by 2026 or 2027.
However, the so-called Sustaining Lunar Development contract winner will work alongside SpaceX to enable regular lunar transportation services. In addition, SpaceX is in for another lander project for NASA to be launched later this decade.
The reason for yet another contract is that NASA faced backlash as both Congress and American private enterprises interested in the project have condemned the agency’s decision to award only one landing system contract worth $2.98 billion. The agency even faced charges by Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin dismissed in federal court.
NASA is now committed to ensuring fair competition and Congress’ support. All interested American bidders except SpaceX will be able to submit their proposals after issuing official requests in the upcoming weeks.
The agency has not revealed the cost of the contract, stating only that it will have a fixed price. They will disclose the price after President Biden’s announcement of the available budget for the fiscal year 2023.
All of these projects testify to NASA’s determination to relieve the days of Apollo by boosting the Artemis program as part of their mission to make a comeback to the Moon.