Washington – Boeing announced on November 5 that it had submitted a proposal to NASA to develop a lunar lander that could be fired in one piece on a space launch rocket.
The company stated that the "Least Steps to the Moon Proposal Submitted for the NASA Human Landing Program" minimizes the number of launches and other "mission critical events" required to bring astronauts to the surface of the moon.
"Using NASA's Space Launch Block 1B capability, we have developed a" Least Steps to the Moon "approach that minimizes mission complexity while offering the safest and most direct path to the moon's surface "Jim Chilton, senior vice president of space and launch at Boeing Defense, Space and Security, said in a statement.
The two-stage launch will launch on an upgraded version of the Block 1
The landing gear is designed to be launched as one unit and not as separate modules that would be aggregated at the gate. The lander also does not require a separate transfer stage to maneuver from near-straight orbit to low moon orbit, as some other projects suggest.
This approach, the company stated in a statement, reduces mission-critical events, such as starts and docking, to at least five. Alternative approaches, according to Boeing, require 11 or more similar events.
This argument reflects the argument made by Doug Cook, a former NASA associate administrator for the study, who now consults with several companies, including Boeing, during a House hearing in September. "The fewer mission critical operations are launched, the greater the likelihood of mission success," he said, identifying the "17 mission critical operations" required for a successful mission under NASA's core approach.
He argues that NASA should focus on SLS, including the Block 1B version and the Orion spacecraft, as well as the SLS payload that can hold a lunar lander. "I believe that a crew and a less restricted lander can be launched to the moon with two SLS launches," he said.
According to NASA's current plans, however, the SLS version of SLS's Block 1B will not be ready in time for 2024 landings. NASA announced on October 16 that it was in talks with Boeing to award a long-term contract for the production of SLS, but Block 1B would not go into service until the Artemis 4 mission in 2025.
Boeing joined Blue Origin – national team, "which includes Draper, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Thunder in pursuit of a NASA lunar contract. Blue Origin confirmed that its team, announced by company founder Jeff Bezos on October 22, submitted a proposal to NASA by the November 5 deadline. Unlike Boeing, there are no major partners in such equipment, said company spokesman Steve Siceloff.
SpaceX is also expected to submit a proposal likely based on its Starship reusable starter car under development. A SpaceX spokesman said that on November 5, the company did not disclose details of the proposal it may submit, but referred to comments made by SpaceX president Guine Shotwell at a media roundtable last month at the International Astronautical Congress, where she said the company was "aiming to be part of Artemis for sure. "
NASA expects to award initial exploration contracts to several companies as soon as the end of the year, and will ultimately select two companies to embark on full agricultural development, one that would be used for the initial landing in 2024, and the other for mission 2025. These plans, however, are pending funding for fiscal 2020, but are yet to be appropriated by Congress.