US space research agency NASA has awarded a $2.9 billion contract to Elon Musk’s SpaceX to produce, build and design a moon lander. SpaceX announced about the contract in a tweet from its official Twitter handle.
“NASA has selected Starship to land the first astronauts on the lunar surface since the Apollo program! We are humbled to help @NASAArtemis usher in a new era of human space exploration → http://go.nasa.gov/3tur510, ” SpaceX tweeted.
Elon Musk, the SpaceX CEO, took to Twitter to announce “NASA Rules” soon after the news was out. Musk also added in another tweet, “We are honoured to be part of the @NASAArtemis team”
SpaceX will produce, build and design a moon lander capable of bringing a new generation of astronauts to the moon.
Elon Musk's SpaceX was chosen by NASA over other competitors like a combined bid from Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin, Draper and Northrop Grumman Corporation, and another bid from Dynetics Inc. SpaceX had submitted an individual bid for the contract.
Blue Origin is owned by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and currently the world's richest man. Musk briefly overtook him for the top spot after Tesla share prices skyrocketed early this year.
Plans are in place for a new phase of manned missions to the moon beginning in as early as 2024. The last manned mission to the moon was done by Apollo 17, all the way back in December 1972. 52 years would have passed between Apollo 17 and the new lunar missions using SpaceX's designed lunar lander in 2024.
The new lander will be the first commercial human lander for NASA as part of its Artemis Program, named after the Greek Goddess of the Hunt and Moon, and will carry two human astronauts to the moon.
Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are well-known aerospace manufacturers, finding prominence in the U.S after they started to produce planes for the Air Force and the Navy respectively during WWII.
Draper Inc is a manufacturer of consumer electronics products.y Dynetics is a subsidiary of Leidos Holding and a famous defense contractor for the U.S.
On Thursday NASA also announced that it will send its astronauts on to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX rocket on April 22.
This comes as NASA prepares for a long-term lunar presence by cooperating with private corporations that share the mission of space exploration as them.