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Elon Musk’s SpaceX is Building NASA’s New Lunar Lander

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Elon Musk’s SpaceX will be building the lunar lander that will used as part of a planned mission to return to the moon in 2024, NASA announced today.As first reported by The Washington Post, Musk’s company will receive a contract worth $2.89 billion to build the crewed lunar lander. It will cover an uncrewed flight and a single crewed landing.

It was something of an upset win for SpaceX, which beat out both Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and the Leidos subsidiary Dynetics for the contract. As CNBC notes, when the competition began in 2020, NASA initially handed out $967 million to the three companies, with SpaceX receiving the least amount of money. What’s more, NASA was expected to choose two teams in order to keep the competition going.

SpaceX will use a variation of its Starship rocket, which the company has been testing in Boca Chica, Texas. The mission will use NASA’s Space Launch system to send four astronauts to the moon aboard the Orion spacecraft, with two of them transferring to SpaceX’s lander. The mission is part of NASA’s Artemis program, which seeks to land “the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before.”“With this award, NASA and our partners will complete the first crewed demonstration mission to the surface of the Moon in the 21st century as the agency takes a step forward for women’s equality and long-term deep space exploration,” said , NASA’s associate administrator for Human Explorations and Operations Mission Directorate Kathy Lueders said in an official release. “This critical step puts humanity on a path to sustainable lunar exploration and keeps our eyes on missions farther into the solar system, including Mars.”

This new contract is the latest in a string of successes for SpaceX, which successfully launched its first crewed flight into space last year. Meanwhile, Musk wants to to launch two remote-controlled cars into space for a race on the surface of the moon, which honestly sounds like a lot of fun.

Kat Bailey is a Senior Editor at IGN. She strongly recommends watching For All Mankind, which is a great show that’s all about women going to the moon.

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