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NASA issues call for new manned lunar lander proposals

NASA yesterday announced a solicitation for proposals for new manned lunar lander proposals, aimed at obtaining services long term, rather than the initial contract it has awarded SpaceX which only covered the first few Artemis lunar missions.

This solicitation is essentially being offered so that Jeff Bezos’s company Blue Origin will have a second chance to win such a contract, having lost out to SpaceX initially. It also is NASA’s effort to get Congress to give it a bigger budget so that it can pay for two different lunar lander contracts.

Having two competing lunar landers is not a bad thing. Giving a second contract however simply because the company (Blue Origin) exerts political clout is not. Right now it is unclear whether this solicitation is the former or the later.

The announcement also included what has become boilerplate in all NASA announcements about its Artemis lunar missions:

Through Artemis missions, NASA is preparing to return humans to the Moon, including the first woman and first person of color, for long-term scientific discovery and exploration. [emphasis mine]

It is very clear that the number one criteria that NASA has established, under the Biden administration, for picking the crew on that first Artemis lunar landing mission is race and gender, not talent, skill, or ability. While it will be a great thing when the first woman and black steps on the Moon, their skin color or sex should not be the reason they got to go. If it is, it will be incredibly insulting to their talent, skill, and ability. In fact, by making race or gender the only qualification that NASA cares about, it puts an asterisk on those qualifications. Forever people will wonder if these individuals really deserved the honor.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • LTC Ted

    NASA is not checking off enough woke intersectional boxes! They need a one-legged black lesbian Muslim.

  • Alton

    Here come the Sawbones to fill the Request….

  • sippin_bourbon

    I wonder, are they doing this as explicit cover to award BO the contract, or will it be an actual competition. Would be great to see the other competitors step up their game and beat BO…
    It will be hard to under bid them. Jeffy will want to pledge to pay a lot out of pocket to try to buy the competition.

    Also wonder if the problems with BE-4 will play into it as well.

  • HazHap

    As is all too typical of today’s NASA, they are busy planning the perfectly diverse crew for the moon landing before Artemis ever gets into orbit. Such plans are meaningless, as Artemis will never make it to the moon. I am skeptical about it even reaching orbit. Maybe they can just skip all the actual hard work and achievement stuff, and just hold a big ceremony about how historic it all is. Sort of like holding elaborate “graduation” ceremonies for elementary school — as long as you *feel* like it was historic, then it was. No hard work required.

  • Jeff Wright

    ALPACA needs some love

  • Rockribbed1

    Once Starship lands astronauts on the moon successfully the competition will have to step up their game substantially. If you can get 100 tons and a large crew on reusable Starship why buy the crappy Bezos lander.

  • GaryMike

    Think of the Magnificent Memorials they can point to after their virtual signals get folks killed.

    Gotta break eggs…

  • wayne

    Jeff Beck / Johnny Depp “18” (July 2022)
    “Sad [expletive deleted] Parade” (Lyric video)
    Contains Adult Content –

  • GaryMike

    Rereading that, I’m okay with “virtual”.

  • Ray Van Dune

    Who wants to be huddled in a cramped Bezos lander, sitting on a week-old diaper eating MREs, when the other guys are enjoying their coffee, ham and eggs at a Starship table with a penthouse view, fresh from a morning shower? Not me.

  • Catch Thirty-Thr33

    We need a lot of people subject to Ludovico’s Technique and subject to the “I Have A Dream” speech by MLK Jr on an endless loop. Maybe then the message will be gotten across. Maybe.

  • I am
    hoping that ULA will be allowed to give stiff competition to Blue Origin. They could have submitted their long-established XEUS/ACES lander concept but were prevented to even compete for that $B+ contract because it’s parent companies didn’t want to allow it to do so. We do need a +/- 50 tonne hydrolox lander to give the Moon a chance to beat Mars in speed of development and settlement. The Moon is 70 X closer in terms of round trip times.

  • I know that this effort has the appearance of being specifically to help BO. But their hydrolox technology would be extremely useful. I support our choosing to head they direction regardless of who the company is. And, wouldn’t it be delicious if ULA beat BO at the second bite at the apple?

  • Col Beausabre

    And what do they propose to launch it on? Superheavy? ROFL!

  • James Street

    Hopefully NASA’s equity chief is more diverse, equitable and inclusive than the DoD’s.

    Defense Department’s equity chief has taken her account private after anti-white tweets were discovered

  • Owen Hayes

    Being the ‘first’ of anything on the moon isn’t winning the lottery – it’s the equivalent of being sent to the Eastern Front in WW2. Glory could await, but so does death.

  • Patrick Underwood

    No chance Congress will fund Appendix P. But they will certainly tell their constituents how they WANTED to, but sadly were defeated by the evil Enemies of the State in the opposing party.

  • Jay

    LTC Ted,
    Since they are looking for a new lander, they will be looking for a three-legged one!

  • pawn

    Landing and then launching filled LHe/Lox tanks on the Moon or anywhere is a massive technical challenge. Handling all the induced overpressure conditions by venting is massively wasteful. Structural integrity issues, sloshing while maneuvering for landing….they go on and on. This is going to be interesting.

  • pawn

    Sorry, I meant LH2.

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