If all goes according to plan, humans will return to the moon during NASA’s 2024 Artemis mission. And thanks to a $2.9 billion contract, they will descend to the lunar surface in a SpaceX human-landing system.
NASA granted SpaceX the exclusive contract, though it initially planned to include Dynetics and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin in the project as well. Budgetary constraints forced NASA to stick with just one party, which is why SpaceX, now a long-time NASA collaborator, gets the honor of dropping the first humans on the Moon in four decades.
SpaceX volunteered its reusable Starship spacecraft for the Artemis mission, a ship designed to carry large quantities of cargo (or large numbers of people) at a relatively low price. It also happens that, among the companies hoping for a NASA contract, Space X wanted the least amount of money—by a “wide margin.”
Artemis is the first manned moon mission since 1972, and it will mark the first time that a woman steps foot on the lunar surface. The SpaceX human landing system will play a key part in the mission, which will go through three phases—an uncrewed flight, a manned fly-by, and in 2024, a proper trip to the moon.
Source: NASA via Washington Post