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Blue Origin earns NASA lunar improvement contract

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A rendering of Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lander that will likely be a part of NASA’s Artemis program. | Supply: Blue Origin

NASA has awarded Blue Origin, the sub-orbital spaceflight firm based by Jeff Bezos, with a NextSTEP-2 Appendix P Sustaining Lunar Growth (SLD) contract. Beneath the contract, the corporate will develop a human touchdown system for NASA’s Artemis V mission to the Moon. 

Blue Origin will work with its Nationwide Group, which incorporates Lockheed Martin, Draper, Boeing, Astrobotic and Honeybee Robotics, which the corporate acquired in January 2022, to develop and fly a lunar lander that may make a precision touchdown wherever on the Moon’s floor and a cislunar transporter. 

In the course of the Artemis V mission, NASA’s House Launch System (SLS) rocket will launch 4 astronauts into lunar orbit aboard the Orion Spacecraft. As soon as Orion docks, two astronauts will switch to Blue Origin’s human touchdown system for a weeklong journey to the Moon’s South Pole area. 

“Immediately we’re excited to announce Blue Origin will construct a human touchdown system as NASA’s second supplier to ship Artemis astronauts to the lunar floor,” NASA Administrator Invoice Nelson stated. “We’re in a golden age of human spaceflight, which is made potential by NASA’s industrial and worldwide partnerships. Collectively, we’re investing within the infrastructure that can pave the best way to land the primary astronauts on Mars.”

Blue Origin plans to make use of LOX-LH2, a mixture of liquid hydrogen gasoline and liquid oxygen oxidizer, to energy the lander and transporter. LOX-LH2 will create a high-specific impulse that gives a dramatic benefit for high-energy deep area missions. 

Sometimes, builders have used lower-performing however extra simply storable propellants, like hydrazine and nitrogen teroxide, for these sorts of missions as a result of problematic boil-off of LOX-LH2 throughout lengthy mission timelines. 

To fight this, Blue Origin hopes to make high-performance LOX-LH2 a storable propellant mixture. The corporate plans to develop and fly solar-powered 20-degree Kelvin cryocoolers and different applied sciences to stop LOX-LH2 boil-off.  

Blue Origin has excessive hopes for the position that LOX-LH2 can have in the way forward for area journey, notably for future missions past the moon. The corporate additionally thinks that storable LH2 will profit enabling capabilities like high-performance nuclear thermal propulsion. 

Moreover, Blue Origin is getting ready for a future when lunar ice can be utilized to fabricate LOX and LH2 propellents on the Moon. 



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