Our lives are a lot about chasing a goalpost that is somehow always in motion. Now, when your target is so unpredictable, the scenarios can become tricky in no time. Hence, to give ourselves the best possible shot at success, human beings often call for an external helping hand. Over the years, the said help has arrived in some really unique ways, but if the question is about which one enjoyed the most impact, everyone’s answer has to be technology. It seems like a no-brainer mainly because, with technology, we would go on to do things that were once too bold for even our imagination, and once you are able to tread upon such a path, you barely feel like looking back. This progression-oriented mindset will pay off big time, as soon enough, we were making revolutionary discoveries left, right, and center. One discovery, however, is going to lay the foundation for a certain space dream, a dream that will guide us towards moon and beyond, except even after achieving so much in here, we’ll continue tapping into the outer world. In fact, this approach was only reaffirmed by NASA’s latest announcement.
NASA has officially announced its plans to develop a second human lunar lander for the agency’s famous Artemis program, which is structured around the ambition to send humans back to moon. Considering that SpaceX is already working on an Artemis’ lunar lander, the decision to open up the field again appears a little intriguing, but it shouldn’t exactly be a surprise. After all the controversy that emerged from NASA’s exclusive deal with SpaceX in regards to the first lunar lander, many expected the agency to practice a more egalitarian approach moving forward. However, mind you, even though companies like Blue Origin took NASA to court over its decision, it did not implicate the agency of any misdoings. Hence, the recent developments do carry some of NASA’s own interest, which has long been about stirring up competition in US space industry.
“This strategy expedites progress toward a long-term, sustaining lander capability as early as the 2026 or 2027 timeframe,” said Lisa Watson-Morgan, program manager for the Human Landing System Program at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. “We expect to have two companies safely carry astronauts in their landers to the surface of the Moon under NASA’s guidance before we ask for services, which could result in multiple experienced providers in the market.”
Notably, the focus on enhancing competition means SpaceX can longer compete for the second lander’s contract. Beyond that, the company should also expect some changes in its existing contract with NASA. These changes will primarily involve a freshly-added third crewed landing after Artemis III.
As per certain reports, NASA is prepared to start calling for proposals from the end of this month, whereas the final results are slated to be announced later in spring.