NASA delivered yesterday a final version of its shout out for ideas for a human lunar lander scheme, granting companies the possibility to at least firstly get past the orbiting space station Gateway.
The Human Landing System appeal, a component of NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) program, awaits proposals from American companies for the breakthrough of human landers. Those ideas are due on November 1st.
The final variant of the appeal, officially known as Appendix H, comprises the comments the industry submitted into an initial draft, issued on July 19th, and a second draft, published on August 30th. NASA was offered over 1,150 comments to the two distinct drafts, the space agency reported.
Those comments entertained some alterations planned to simplify the process and provide companies with more flexibility. One of the major modifications is that NASA will not require lunar landers to quay with the lunar Gateway anymore, which would otherwise be a staging location. Or at least for initial expeditions to the Moon’s surface.
Marshall Smith, director of NASA’s human lunar exploration program at NASA Headquarters, explained the alteration at a meeting of the National Academies Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board in Irvine, California, held on September 26th. He argued that Gateway is necessary for 2024, but the solicitation would enable companies to drop it.
Smith also said that the space agency is still intending to ultimately select two companies to begin the lander development. One company would have to have a lander prepared for a 2024 landing on the Artemis 3 expedition. The other would be expected to fly their lander on the Artemis 4 mission, scheduled for 2025.
NASA will then changeover into a lunar lander services contract, comparable to those for commercial cargo and crew services for the International Space Station.
Other modifications, comprised into a prior draft of the appeal, remove the requirement for the lander to eventually be reusable, and also diminishes the number of reports companies are presumed to deliver to NASA.