SpaceX, sole winner of NASA’s HLS Moon landing program: report

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk raises his arms to celebrate under a Starship prototype rocket under construction in Boca Chica, Texas.

Steve Jurvetson on flickr

Elon Musk’s SpaceX defeated Blue Origin-led teams of Jeff Bezos and Leidos subsidiary Dynetics to win a nearly $ 3 billion contract to build NASA’s next manned lunar lander, The Washington Post reported Friday.

Last year, NASA awarded the three teams $ 967 million, 10-month contracts to begin work on lunar lander concepts as part of its Human Landing Systems, or HLS, program. SpaceX received the least of these three amounts, with $ 135 million. Meanwhile, Dynetics took in $ 253 million and Blue Origin took in $ 579 million.

SpaceX’s contract in the latest competition is worth $ 2.9 billion, The Post reported, citing a NASA source selection document.

NASA was to choose two of the three teams, making SpaceX’s single selection a surprise given the agency’s previous goals for the program to continue to be a competition.

For the HLS program, Musk’s company offered a variant of its Starship rocket, prototypes that SpaceX tested at its development facility in Boca Chica, Texas. The company has performed several successful Starship test flights to date, although landing attempts after the last four high altitude flights have resulted in a variety of flaming explosions.

HLS is part of NASA’s Artemis mission to land astronauts on the moon by 2024.

The mission was announced by President Donald Trump’s administration. President Joe Biden’s press secretary said the current administration intends to continue with Artemis.

Bezos’ space company has unveiled plans to build a manned lunar lander in 2019, announcing it will partner with industry giants Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper in the effort. Dynetics, owned by Leidos, teamed up with Sierra Nevada Corporation for their concept and was considered a dark horse in the race.

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NASA plans to make an announcement on the HLS program later on Friday, acting agency administrator Steve Jurczyk said earlier today.

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