SpaceX Thinks It Can Send Humans to the Moon Sooner than 2024
by Matt Williams | Universe Today
It’s no secret that a new Space Race has been brewing over the past few years. This time, rather than being a competition between two federal space agencies, the race has more competitors and is more complicated. In addition to more state competitors, there are also commercial space entities vying for positions and lucrative contracts. Add to that a network of public-private partnerships, and you have Space Race 2.0!
In particular, there has been quite the stir ever since NASA awarded the Artemis contract for the Human Landing System (HLS) to SpaceX. This resulted in legal challenges filed by Blue Origin and Dynetics (SpaceX’s competitors), as well as a lawsuit and messy public relations campaign. NASA has since removed the stop-work order and commenced payments to SpaceX, which recently indicated their HLS concept could be ready to go before the 2024 deadline.
As part of the NextSTEP – 2 Appendix H program, NASA selected SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Dynetics to develop the HLS that will take the Artemis III astronauts back to the lunar surface. Initially, NASA hoped to award contracts to two of these companies but ultimately went with SpaceX due to budget constraints and timetables. In response, Blue Origin and Dynetics filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
On July 30th, the GAO denied these protests and rescinded the stop-work order they had put in place until they could review the protests. That same day, according to CNBC space reporter Michael Sheetz, NASA made the first payment on the HLS contract. Based on documents uploaded to USASpening.gov, Sheetz reported that NASA awarded $300 million out of an obligated amount of $439.6 million (the total contract is valued at over $3 billion).