As part of NASA’s push to get humans back to the moon by 2024, a team of four aerospace companies — including Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin — is collaborating to create a lunar lander. The team has now completed its initial design and has delivered a prototype to NASA for testing.
The mockup of the lunar lander was created by the Human Landing System (HLS) National Team, led by Blue Origin along with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper. The idea is for these companies to work together to create a prototype of what could be NASA’s crew lander for carrying astronauts back to the moon as part of the Artemis program.
“The mockup is a full-scale replica of the system that we’re going to be sending to the lunar surface in 2024,” Paul Anderson, program manager at Lockheed Martin explained in a video. With the mockup delivered to NASA, astronauts and engineers there can see what it would be like to travel in the lander and give feedback on changes they would like to see implemented.
There are three main parts to the lander, which stands at over 40 feet tall. There’s the Ascent Element, built by Lockheed Martin, which will house the crew; the Transfer Element, built by Northrop Grumman, is for transferring the crew from the lander to the moon; and the Descent Element, built by Blue Origin, for landing the crew on the surface of the moon. Navigation and controls for the lander plus other software systems will be provided by Draper.
All three elements are included in the mockup, which can now be used for testing at NASA’s Johnson Space Center for the rest of this year and through 2021. “Testing this engineering mockup for crew interaction is a step toward making this historic mission real,” Brent Sherwood, vice president of advanced development programs at Blue Origin, said in a statement.
“The learning we get from full-scale mockups can’t be done any other way. Benefiting from NASA’s expertise and feedback at this early stage allows us to develop a safe commercial system that meets the agency’s needs.”
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