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Senate passes NASA authorization that calls for second lunar lander contract

The Senate today passed a new NASA authorization that requires the agency to award a second manned lunar lander contract in addition to the one it gave SpaceX for its Starship spacecraft.

The bill also recommended a $10 billion increase over five years in this specific lunar lander program to pay for that second contract.

None of this is law yet, as the House must agree also. In addition, as this is an authorization, not an appropriation, the extra money has not been appropriated, which means it does not yet exist. And should it be approved at these recommended numbers, it means that NASA will be forced to stretch out the creation of both lunar landers, as the money appropriated is still less than required to build either.

I suspect that this budget shortfall will not delay SpaceX’s Starship significantly, as that company has obtained sufficient private funding to build it regardless. More likely the second lunar lander will face longer delays, unless its builders decide to do what SpaceX has done, and obtain private capital to get it done fast.

Note too that this recommendations follows Congress’s general policy of imagining money grows on trees and that there is an infinite supply. While it might be a good idea to pay for two landers, the country’s debt suggests otherwise. Maybe a wiser course would be for the government to only offer a tiny percentage of the capital, and demand the builders find their own funding, as SpaceX has done.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


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Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • Trent Castanaveras

    This contract would barely affect Spacex’s pace in the slightest, whether it was won, shared or lost. Lunar Starship is a unique, almost one-off craft sharing some commonality with production Starship, which is already on track to be privately fully funded with clear milestones to the final product.

    The only value SpaceX garners from doing it at all is the ability to directly tap into NASA’s deep space long-term human support technologies. That’s a requirement for Martian flights, and so this may shave some time from developing it on their own.

  • Mark

    It looks like some/ many senators want to spend ten billion of taxpayer dollars to ensure good press from the Bezos’s Washington Post. If true, that’s just pathetic and another data point in the story of the decline of the Globalist American Empire. The success of SpaceX in contrast to SLS has embarrassed the elites of this Empire, so they have to throw support and dollars at SpaceX’s competitors.

  • Tom Billings

    “It looks like some/ many senators want to spend ten billion of taxpayer dollars to ensure good press from the Bezos’s Washington Post. ”

    That’s the smaller end of things. What Senator Cantwell has done is to rally Senate colleges to a defense of the status quo they created for the aerospace industry by at least 1987. The Aerospace contractors are vassals of those who provide them funding to employ workers in “the right districts”, who will know just whose tenure in the Senate they want, to protect their own jobs. The power is wielded by the source of the funding, not the funnels that pass it through to aerospace workers/voters. The Senate apparently agrees with Cantwell.

    They want their vassals employed, to keep sending them back to their center of power on the Senate floor.

  • Jeff Wright

    I think a fall-back option is wise….cut everything but NASA-the eternal whipping boy of Randians who ought to pave their own private roads to and from work.
    A lunar starship should carry heavy rovers and be kept as a base. Come back with Orion as starship proves itself in this new environment over time. Two modes of ascent. This allows a mission to succeed even if starship crashes. We beat China either way.

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