NASA recently unveiled the names of the three companies which will be building lunar landers for the Artemis mission in 2020 and 2021.
Astrobotic, Intuitive Machines, and Orbit Beyond are commercial companies based in the U.S. which have been tasked with carrying payloads for conducting experiments and scientific investigations on the lunar surface. These private companies will build, develop, and operate the landers. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement, “Next year, our initial science and technology research will be on the lunar surface, which will help support sending the first woman and the next man to the moon in five years. Investing in these commercial landing services also is another strong step to build a commercial space economy beyond low-Earth orbit.”
Astrobotic is in-charge of building Peregrine, a 6.3 feet tall, 8.2 feet wide lander with five engines. The lander’s is not expected to carry heavy equipment during its first journey to the lunar surface, however it is expected to have the capacity of carrying gear weighing upto 265 kilograms. The company’s deal with NASA is worth $79.5 million, and the lander will put 14 agency payloads on an area called Lacus Mortis by July 2021.
Intuitive Machines’ NASA deal worth $77 million includes carrying as many as 5 payloads to the basaltic plain Oceanus Procellarum by July 2021. The Intuitive Machines built Nova-C lander is equipped to bear loads weighing up to 100 kg, and the design of the lander is based on Project Morpheus, which is a planetary-lander project that ran between 2010 and 2015. “The core team that was instrumental in the success of the Morpheus lander left government service and founded IM,” the company’s representatives mentioned on a website dedicated to the Nova-C lander.
Orbit Beyond has struck a deal worth $97 million with NASA and is tasked with delivering around 4 payloads to an area on the moon’s surface called lava plain Mare Imbrium. The company’s Z-01 lander has the capacity to carry weight up to 40kg