The U.S. space agency NASA has awarded contracts to three American companies to develop spacecraft to land humans on the moon by 2024.
In a remote news conference Thursday, NASA announced it had selected Blue Origin, the space exploration company owned by Jeff Bezos, owner of The Washington Post, and owner and founder of Amazon; Dynetics, a subsidiary of research company Leidos that is based in the city of Huntsville, Alabama; and SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, California, and owned by businessman Elon Musk.
NASA says the companies will compete to design and develop systems for the agency’s Artemis program, which has the goal of landing men and women on the surface of the moon for the first time since the 1970s. The project would also develop systems by 2028 that could be used for people to explore the solar system.
NASA’s statement says the three commercial partners will refine their moon lander concepts through February 2021. The agency will evaluate which of the contractors will perform initial demonstration missions, and from those missions, NASA will select the final lunar lander.
The Washington Post reports both NASA and the White House must still convince Congress to fund the program, which is projected to cost $35 billion through 2024.