NASA to Provide $146 Million for Lunar Lander Studies

Appendix N is intended to bridge NASA’s Lunar Exploration Transportation Services (LETS) program, where NASA will buy crewed lunar landing services for later Artemis missions, much as it does commercial crew and cargo services for the International Space Station.

Fremont, CA: NASA will provide $146 million to five companies, representing the three teams that previously competed to develop the Artemis lunar lander to perform studies for future lunar lander concepts. NASA announced the awards for what the agency calls Appendix N of its Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP). In July, NASA issued a request for proposals for NextSTEP Appendix N to support work on what NASA calls “sustainable” human landing system concepts intended to support missions after Artemis 3, the first crewed lunar landing mission of the Artremis program.

Three of the awardees are part of the so-called “National Team” led by Blue Origin, which received $25.6 million. Lockheed Martin received $35.2 million and Northrop Grumman $34.8 million. While the three companies received individual awards, a Lockheed executive confirmed they are still participating in the Blue Origin-led team while also studying other options. “Lockheed Martin continues to be committed to the National Team and its thoughtful, safe and sustainable lander system,” Lisa Callahan, vice president, and general manager of commercial, civil space at Lockheed Martin, said.

A Northrop executive offered a similar assessment. “We continue to work in partnership with Blue Origin and the National Team to meet NASA’s ambitious goals to return to the moon and Mars,” said Steve Krein, vice president of civil and commercial satellites at Northrop Grumman, in a statement to SpaceNews. “In addition to those collective efforts, we are also providing our unique skills and capabilities to exploring alternative perspectives for a long-term sustainable program to take humans back to the moon to stay.”

The Blue Origin-led team was one of three bidders for the Human Landing System (HLS) program, where NASA funds the development of a lunar lander and a demonstration mission. Dynetics, another HLS bidder, received $40.8 million.

Both Blue Origin’s National Team and Dynetics lost to SpaceX, which won a $2.9 billion award in April for a lunar lander based on its Starship vehicle. SpaceX also received an Appendix N award valued at $9.4 million, by far the smallest of the five made by NASA.

Neither NASA nor any of the companies disclosed details of what they plan to do with the awards. However, NASA said the funding would support concept studies and risk-reduction 

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