NASA's call for human lunar lander proposals has 'ambitious' deadline

NASA is now accepting proposals for human lunar landing systems, the space agency announced on Monday. The call has been put out under the Artemis program following two previous drafts issued on July 19 and August 30. According to NASA, the first selected private American company that completes its lunar lander will have the distinction of carrying astronauts to the Moon's surface in 2024.

The Artemis program plans to, among other things, send two astronauts to the Moon's surface in 2024. This effort will be part of a larger mission to establish a perpetual human presence on the lunar surface. Future missions will include ones involving humans on the surface, as well as other missions that will utilize a variety of technologies, including rovers, to travel around the Moon and study its properties.

NASA has put out a number of calls for American companies to provide key technologies for its missions. Over the weekend, the space agency revealed the 14 private companies it had chosen as partners for the development of various technologies, including ones designed to harvest energy and refuel machinery.

In a new statement today, NASA said it is now officially seeking proposals in its final call to industry for human lunar landers. The proposals will be accepted from American companies, many of which will receive awards from NASA to develop their systems. The first one to the finish line will transport the two astronauts to the Moon in 2024; the second completed lander system will be used for a second human transport scheduled for 2025.

Companies must submit their proposals by November 1. NASA acknowledges that this is an 'ambitious timeline,' but points out that it has been given a very ambitious deadline for its mission. As well, companies were first alerted to the plan in mid-July, meaning they've had time to prepare for this open call. It typically takes at least six years to develop spaceflight hardware, but NASA only has five years to hit its 2024 deadline.