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NASA Asks American Aerospace Companies to Offer Detailed Ideas for Future Lunar Lander

NASA called the request for input a "major step" forward for its new moon mission, dubbed Artemis

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FILE - NASA's Space Launch System mobile launcher rolls on a crawler-transporter for months of testing before the launch of Artemis 1 at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, June 27, 2019. VOA

U.S. space agency NASA on Monday asked American aerospace companies to offer detailed ideas for vehicles that could bring two astronauts to the moon by 2024, an American objective that was reconfirmed on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission.

NASA called the request for input a “major step” forward for its new moon mission, dubbed Artemis — who in Greek mythology was Apollo’s twin sister.

The space agency published documents explaining in detail what it is looking for in a lunar lander that will bring the two astronauts, one a woman, to the moon’s south pole, where they will stay for six-and-a-half days.

In May, 11 companies including sector mainstays Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman were picked to lead feasibility studies and develop prototypes by November. Also on the list were newcomers such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.

NASA, American, Aerospace
FILE – Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the first men to land on the moon, plant the U.S. flag on the lunar surface, July 20, 1969. VOA

That same month, Blue Origin unveiled its lander project, Blue Moon.

Now, NASA has provided dozens of pages of specifications that must be met in terms of onboard electronics, communications, and spacesuits.

Any company can reply, not just the 11 shortlisted earlier in the year.

“On the heels of the 50th Anniversary of #Apollo11, we’ve just issued a draft solicitation asking US companies to help us develop the 21st century human landing system that will land the first woman and next man on the Moon in 2024,” NASA chief Jim Bridenstine tweeted.

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Behind schedule

After receiving the responses, NASA is expected to make a decision in a matter of months as to which company will build the lander and how.

It will be the equivalent of the lunar module that took Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon in 1969.

NASA, American, Aerospace
U.S. space agency NASA on Monday asked American aerospace companies to offer detailed ideas for vehicles that could bring two astronauts to the moon by 2024. Pixabay

One important difference will be that the lander will berth at a mini moon-orbiting space station, called Gateway, as a kind of port between Earth and the moon. That will allow for the lander to be reused and refueled.

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For now, the Artemis mission is behind schedule, mainly due to delays in the construction of the huge, single-use Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which is primarily being made by Boeing. (VOA)

Next Story

Live Broadcast of Meteor Shower to Be Available on NASA Meteor Watch Facebook Page

Across the Northern Hemisphere, sky watchers will be treated to a stunning array of meteors streaking overhead from late Sunday into early Monday

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Meteor Shower, Live, NASA
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via Email Print this page Comments Science & Health Perseid Meteor Shower to Peak This Week By VOA News August 11, 2019 11:09 PM A photographer sets up his camera hoping to document the universal phenomenon of the Perseid Meteor Shower, in the Valley of Whales, in Fayoum, Egypt, Aug. 12, 2017. (H. Elrasam/VOA) A photographer sets up his camera hoping to document the universal phenomenon of the Perseid Meteor Shower, in the Valley of Whales, in Fayoum, Egypt, Aug. 12, 2017. VOA

The best meteor shower of the year is upon us.

Across the Northern Hemisphere, sky watchers will be treated to a stunning array of meteors streaking overhead from late Sunday into early Monday, as well as Monday night into early Tuesday.

The Perseids occur when Earth enters the debris field left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle. The Earth entered the debris field in late July, but this weekend will be the peak, with as many as 50 meteors streaking by every hour. The Earth will exit the debris field in late August.

According to NASA, a live broadcast of the meteor shower from a camera in Huntsville, Alabama, will be available on the NASA Meteor Watch Facebook page after 8 p.m. EDT Sunday (0000 UTC Monday).

Meteor Shower, Live, NASA
The best meteor shower of the year is upon us. Pixabay

For best viewing, NASA recommends going away from bright city lights to darker areas.

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The meteors can be seen in all directions, NASA says. And all you need are your eyes; no binoculars or telescopes required. People should give their eyes about 30 minutes to adjust to the dark, NASA adds. (VOA)