NASA wants another company to work with SpaceX for its moon landing missions

If you've been following developments on NASA's upcoming Artemis lunar missions, you might know that the US space organization selected Elon Musk's SpaceX to design and build the lunar landers for astronauts last year. SpaceX was selected from three other available choices. Now NASA has paved the way to select another company besides SpaceX for the lunar landers. Let's take a look at the details.

NASA to select another company for Artemis missions

After unveiling the new spacesuits for the Artemis mission in 2019, NASA selected three space companies, including SpaceX, Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and a defense contractor named Dynetics, to design and build lunar landers for its Artemis missions in 2020. Last year, the space agency confirmed that SpaceX will be awarded the contract to design and build human landing systems (HLS) for lunar missions.

And now, NASA wants another space company to work with SpaceX to design a second lunar lander for its astronauts. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson recently revealed that the organization will soon select the second company, which will receive the lunar lander development contract for its missions.

"I promised competition, so here it is," Nelson said in a statement.

The second company will need to work with SpaceX engineers to support NASA's Artemis missions over the next decade. These missions will be interconnected with each other , and the companies will build on their past progress to support NASA's initiative to take humans to the Moon for the second time.

Much like SpaceX's contract, the second company would also receive NASA funding for two landings . One would be without astronauts and it would demonstrate the capabilities of the spacecraft, and the other would be a mission with the astronauts.

The agency will issue a draft RFP, after which final proposals will be released by this summer. While it's unclear which company will be involved in the Artemis mission, Tech Crunch confirms that Blue Origin will also be participating in the contest.

NASA Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Development Jim Free said they are aiming for a crewed mission in 2026 or 2027 . Additionally, at least one of the astronauts would be a woman, making her the first woman to land on the Moon.