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

(30 April 2020 - Blue Origin) Today 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.

“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.”

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The Blue Origin National Team crewed lander on the surface of the Moon. (courtesy: Blue Origin)

Using existing and in development technologies provides 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.

“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.

The National Team looks forward to embarking on the next steps with NASA and continuing progress to return to the Moon – this time to stay.