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Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk to Help NASA Land First Woman and Next Man on Moon

Returning astronauts to the Moon in 2024 could cost about $30 billion, or roughly the same price tag as the Apollo 11 spaceflight when factoring in inflation

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Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and owner of Blue Origin. (Wikimedia commons)

The US space agency has selected 13 firms — including Blue Origin of Jeff Bezos and SpaceX of Elon Musk — to develop space technologies as it prepares to land humans on the Moon by 2024 with the Artemis mission and, later, the Red Planet.

Various NASA centres will partner with the companies — which range from small businesses with fewer than a dozen employees to large aerospace organizations — to provide expertise, facilities, hardware and software at no cost, the agency said in a statement on Tuesday.

“We’ve identified technology areas NASA needs for future missions, and these public-private partnerships will accelerate their development so we can implement them faster,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD).

Lockheed Martin will work with NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, to test materials made from metal powders using solid-state processing to improve the design of spacecraft that operate in high-temperature environments.

Blue Origin will collaborate with NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and Goddard to mature a navigation and guidance system for safe and precise landing at a range of locations on the Moon.

Blue Origin will also partner with Glenn and Johnson to mature a fuel cell power system for the company’s Blue Moon lander.

The system could provide uninterrupted power during the lunar night, which lasts for about two weeks in most locations.

Tesla CEO Elon musk, board
Tesla CEO Elon Musk. (VOA)

“Blue Origin, Marshall and Langley will evaluate and mature high-temperature materials for liquid rocket engine nozzles that could be used on lunar landers,” said NASA.

SpaceX will work with NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to advance their technology to vertically land large rockets on the Moon. This includes advancing models to assess engine plume interaction with lunar regolith.

SpaceX will also work with Glenn and Marshall to advance technology needed to transfer propellant in orbit, an important step in the development of the company’s Starship space vehicle.

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The space agency has doubled down on its next giant leap with the Artemis mission that would take “the first woman and the next man” to the lunar surface.

The programme includes an unmanned mission around the Moon in 2020 and a manned mission that also will orbit the Moon two years later.

Returning astronauts to the Moon in 2024 could cost about $30 billion, or roughly the same price tag as the Apollo 11 spaceflight when factoring in inflation. (IANS)

Next Story

India’s Chandrayaan-2 on Course to Moon

The Indian space agency said the major activities include Earth-bound manoeuvres, the trans-lunar insertion, lunar-bound manoeuvres, Vikram’s separation from Chandrayaan-2 and touch down on the Moon’s South Pole

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India, Spacecraft, Moon
A spectator holds an Indian flag after a mission of Indian Space Research Organization's Chandrayaan-2, with the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle on board was called back because of a technical snag in Sriharikota, India, July 15, 2019. VOA

The Indian space agency on Tuesday completed successfully the crucial orbit manoeuvre and put the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft into the lunar orbit.

According to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) was completed successfully at 9.02 a.m. as planned using the onboard propulsion system. All the systems of Chandrayaan-2 are healthy.

“The duration of manoeuvre was 1,738 seconds. With this, Chandrayaan-2 was successfully inserted into a lunar orbit. The orbit achieved is 114km X 18,072km,” the ISRO said.

Following this, a series of orbit manoeuvres will be performed on Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft to enable it to enter its final orbit passing over the lunar poles at a distance of about 100 km from the Moon’s surface.

Subsequently, the lander — Vikram — will separate from the Orbiter and enter into a 100km X 30km orbit around the Moon.

“Then, it will perform a series of complex braking manoeuvres to soft land in the South Polar region of the Moon on September 7, 2019,” ISRO said.

NASA
Earth’s view from moon’s surface. Pixabay

The health of the spacecraft is being continuously monitored from the Mission Operations Complex (MOX) at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru with support from Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennas at Bylalu, near the Karnataka capital.

The next Lunar bound orbit manoeuvre is scheduled on Wednesday between 12.30-1.30 p.m.

On July 22, the Chandrayaan-2 was injected into an elliptical orbit of 170X45,475 km by India’s heavy lift rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV Mk III) in a text book style.

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The spacecraft comprises three segments – the Orbiter (weighing 2,379 kg, eight payloads), the lander ‘Vikram’ (1,471 kg, four payloads) and rover ‘Pragyan’ (27 kg, two payloads).

The Indian space agency said the major activities include Earth-bound manoeuvres, the trans-lunar insertion, lunar-bound manoeuvres, Vikram’s separation from Chandrayaan-2 and touch down on the Moon’s South Pole. (IANS)