While celebrating its fiftieth anniversary of going on the moon NASA is making serious plans for the future by making landers for humans to make frequent trips to lunar surface and back by 2020. To make this a reality NASA is taking the assistance of private sector partners and sent out a solicitation notice for HLSIL or moon lander project which is part of its Next Space Tech (NextSTEP). The notice also has a draft type version of its actual announcement and NASA inviting comments of industry for it by 2nd August.
The solicitation draft offers new insights about NASA’s method of development of landers that can carry humans to the moon and bring them back within exact time to meet deadline of 2024 which was set by White House and agreed to by VP Mark Pence during his 50th anniversary speech of the landing of spacecraft Apollo 11. The plan of NASA is a 2 phase approach for landing on the moon with landers. While the initial phase there will be development of basic lander design for demonstration mission which should be able to carry around two astronauts to lunar surface for a week and returning back through lunar Gateway that NASA says will now serve as a point for all lunar lander missions.
This lander can be used as part of Artemis 3 mission which is a crewed mission of Orion spacecraft to the moon. NASA wants the first pair of astronauts to go to South Polar Region of the moon and other 2 astronauts to stay on lunar Gateway. NASA wants to carry out development of landers through partnership of both public organizations and private companies which is its long term exploration program for lunar surface that can be sustainable. According to its solicitation plans it will select two firms in first phase to develop landers by 2024 which is likely from the group which has been given a one year study contract.