Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin Delivers Massive Lunar Lander Mockup To NASA Ahead Of 2024 Moon Mission
In the modern era, there is a bit of a commercial space race occurring, vying for NASA’s approval and monetary support. Among the competitors, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, leading a team of companies, has taken a step forward by delivering an engineering sample of their lunar lander to NASA’s Johnson Space Center. The Blue Origin-led Human Landing System National Team, comprised of Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper, has moved this project to Johnson Space Center (JSC) to show off what they made. Standing at 40 feet tall and weighing in at a not-very-light weight, the lunar lander is set to showcase the multi-stage architecture; wherein there is both a descent and ascent element as well as a transfer element.
For all the elements in the lander, each member of the team brings their own individual capabilities. The descent element directly below is a Blue Origin vehicle based on their Blue Moon cargo lander and BE-7 LOX/hydrogen engine.
Concerning the ascent vehicle (below), Lockheed-Martin brings in their avionics and systems from their deep-space Orion vehicle. As the blog states, “consistent cockpit experience and training from Orion to the [ascent element] makes the end-to-end mission safer for Artemis.”
To get the lander up and down, Northrop-Grumman brings expertise in propulsion based on their Cygnus vehicle for ISS resupply missions. The final piece of the puzzle is Draper, which provides avionics and systems for control.
Before any of these systems can be used, though, many tests and experiments must be run on this updated lunar module. This process is crucial in making sure everything is safe and will remain so over the course of a mission. Brent Sherwood, vice president of Advanced Development Programs at Blue Origin, states that “The learning we get from full-scale mockups can’t be done any other way. Benefitting from NASA’s expertise and feedback at this early stage allows us to develop a safe commercial system that meets the agency’s needs.” Until 2021, this lander will remain at JSC for a whole gamut of testing and running simulations. Throughout this time, the team will continue to add features to the lander to improve the experience and internal systems.
With these developments in the lunar lander, the goal for space travel is getting exciting. As Kirk Shireman, president of Lunar Campaigns at Lockheed Martin, says, “Together we form an excellent team to send our next astronauts to the Moon in 2024.” As these things begin to develop in the coming years, stick around HotHardware for further information and exciting space news.
(Images Sourced from Blue Origin's Blue Moon Team Webpage)