NASA announced SpaceX to be the winner of the Human Landing System (HLS) contract, a critical component of the administration's plan to return to the moon.
With the winning bid of 2.9 billion US dollars, the California based company will now have the privilege of developing the ship by which NASA astronauts will return to our moon's surface for the first time since the Apollo program.
HLS is a key part of NASA's Artemis program, a U.S. government-funded international human spaceflight program to return to the moon. The program will begin with unmanned flights, followed by a moon flyby with a crewed craft, and eventually a manned lunar landing at the south pole of the moon.
Three companies — SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynetics— bid for the HLS contract last year. And while the other two companies have built full-scale models of their system, SpaceX was the only company to actively test functional prototypes. The company also reportedly undercut both prospective suppliers considerably with its bid, according to The Washington Post.
The planned landing mission has a planned fly date of 2024. SpaceX is working with Maxar to deliver components of the Lunar Gateway satellite with their Falcon Heavy Rocket, another core component of the Artemis program.