Blue Origin recently showcased the prototype of the lander it is building to help return humans to the Moon as part of NASA‘s Artemis program. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson shared photos of the company’s Blue Moon Mark 1 lunar lander project.
Blue Moon Mark 1
Lander is intended to carry up to 2.7 metric tons of payload to the Moon. “Impressive visit to Blue Origin’s Huntsville engine production facility! NASA is proud to partner with Blue Origin, particularly on the Blue Moon human landing system. This will help ensure a steady arrival of astronauts on the Moon to live and work before venturing to Mars“ Nelson wrote in a post on the X (ref.) social media site on October 27th.
Blue Origin has not declared a scheduled launch date for the Blue Moon Mark 1 lander. The current design of Blue Origin’s Mark 1 lander for the Artemis program is significantly different from the renders shown by the company. It appears much sleeker and taller than depicted in the original company images.
In May 2023, NASA selected Blue Origin to build a lunar lander, which is expected to be the Mark 2. If all goes according to plan, it will be the second Human Landing System (HLS) to bring humans to the lunar surface during the agency’s Artemis program.
Commercial Lunar Payload Services
The lander is expected to be used during the Artemis 5 mission, which is set to launch no earlier than 2029 according to current timelines. Blue Origin is developing the reusable New Glenn rocket to launch its Blue Moon landers. Nasa gave $3.4 billion award granted to Blue Origin for the development of the Mark 2. Space agency aims to ensure that there is a second way to land astronauts on the Moon.
The first way, chosen in 2021, is SpaceX‘s reusable Starship vehicle, which NASA hopes will be able to ferry astronauts to and from the lunar surface during the Artemis 3 and 4 missions, currently slated for 2025 and 2028, respectively.
Blue Origin is also one of the many companies participating in NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, which aims to send privately developed technologies to the Moon for scientific studies and lay the groundwork for crewed visits to the Moon, starting with Artemis 3.