Blue Origin and SpaceX get million-dollar NASA nod to test moon lander tech

Eleven aerospace companies will share more than $45 million in funds from NASA to design and test prototypes for the Artemis moon missions, the agency has announced. Among the established names like Northrop Grumman and Sierra Nevada are relative newcomers SpaceX and Blue Origin, looking to make a place for themselves on the agency’s biggest push in decades.
The funds are to enable what NASA calls undefinitized contract actions, in which partners get to work before negotiations on the rest of the contract have concluded. It basically shows that time is of the essence and that NASA is willing to pay up front to someone they may not even contract with later, just to get a jump start on the work that needs doing.
And what’s the work? They’ll be cooking up designs and prototypes for the Human Landing System, which as you might guess will take astronauts (and cosmonauts, and perhaps taikonauts) from a high lunar orbit to a low one, then to the surface, then back again. The three elements are called transfer, descent, and ascent respectively — and there’s a refueling one as well.
Each company will have a specific set of mechanisms or designs it will be expected to produce, but none is expected to put together the whole shebang.

NASA gives its new Moon mission a name: Artemis
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