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NASA selects Blue Origin National Team to return humans to the Moon

The Artemis program (based on the Blue Moon Lander) makes heavy use of AM parts

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The Blue Origin National Team, which includes Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper, was selected by NASA to begin to develop the Artemis Human Landing System. Existing and in development, technologies provide the head start needed to meet NASA’s goal of landing at the South Pole of the Moon. Lockheed Martin’s Ascent Element is based on Orion; Northrop Grumman’s Transfer Element is based on Cygnus; and Blue Origin’s Descent Element is based on the Blue Moon lander and BE-7 engine, which has been in development for several years.

“NASA’s Artemis program will be the next major milestone in the history of human space flight, and we’re honored to be a part of it,” said Bob Smith, CEO, Blue Origin. “Our National Team brings unparalleled heritage, passion and innovation that will enable Americans to return to the lunar surface and inspire another generation. It’s time to go back to the Moon, this time to stay.”

Like all new (and old) space companies, Blue Origin is a heavy user of additive manufacturing, and its Blue Moon Lander’s BE-7 engine is “almost entirely 3D printed”. Bezos presented the Blue Moon lander along with his vision for going to space and how this will eventually benefit Earth. The Blue Moon lunar lander is going to be capable of taking people and payloads to the lunar surface, meeting the goal of putting humans on the Moon by 2024.

Blue Origin National Team
The early Blue Moon Lander concept, presented by Bezos, already took into consideration an almost entirely 3D printed engine.

“Lockheed Martin is honored to be partnered with Blue Origin and this National Team as we begin a moment in history that the world will point to for generations,” said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Space. “The Artemis astronauts will descend to the surface and ascend off the surface inside an advanced crewed ascent element. The best way to accomplish this safely and quickly is to leverage NASA’s investment in Orion, an existing human-rated deep space spaceship, which maximizes common training and operations.”

“Putting humans back on the lunar surface is an inspiring goal for our nation,” said Blake Larson, corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman Space Systems. “We are proud to support this team and NASA with our decades of experience, comprehensive capabilities, and our proven space systems, as we return to the Moon.”

“Draper’s extensive portfolio and heritage in human exploration avionics is reinforced by current work on Lockheed Martin’s Orion, NASA’s SLS, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus and Blue Origin’s engine, New Glenn and Blue Moon programs,” said Seamus Tuohy, Principal Director of Space Systems, Draper. “We are prepared for this united team to return humans to the Moon, just as Draper did with Apollo.”

Each National Team partner brings industry-leading solutions: Blue Origin, as prime contractor, leads program management, systems engineering, safety and mission assurance, and mission engineering and operations; and develops the Descent Element. Lockheed Martin develops the reusable Ascent Element vehicle and leads crewed flight operations and training. Northrop Grumman develops the Transfer Element vehicle that delivers the landing system into low lunar orbit for final descent. Draper leads descent guidance and provides flight avionics.

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