Washington, Nov 16 (UiTV/IANS) – NASA has awarded a contract modification to Elon Musk-run SpaceX to further develop its Starship human landing system to meet agency requirements for long-term human exploration of the Moon under Artemis.
With this addition, SpaceX will provide a second crewed landing demonstration mission in 2027 as part of NASA’s Artemis IV mission.
The award is a modification to an existing Human Landing System (HLS) contract between the US space agency and SpaceX.
The original contract was awarded for $2.9 billion. The contract modification has a value of about $1.15 billion.
“With multiple planned landers, from SpaceX and future partners, NASA will be better positioned to accomplish the missions of tomorrow: conducting more science on the surface of the Moon than ever before and preparing for crewed missions to Mars,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
The aim of this new work under Option B is to develop and demonstrate a Starship lunar lander that meets NASA’s sustaining requirements for missions beyond Artemis III, including docking with Gateway, accommodating four crew members, and delivering more mass to the surface.
“Continuing our collaborative efforts with SpaceX through Option B furthers our resilient plans for regular crewed transportation to the lunar surface and establishing a long-term human presence under Artemis,” said Lisa Watson-Morgan, manager for the Human Landing System programme at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama.
“This critical work will help us focus on the development of sustainable, service-based lunar landers anchored to NASA’s requirements for regularly recurring missions to the lunar surface,” she added.
NASA initially selected SpaceX to develop a human landing system variant of Starship to land the next American astronauts on the Moon under Artemis III, which will mark humanity’s first return to the lunar surface in more than 50 years.