NASA said on Friday April 16 that it had awarded a $ 2.9 billion contract to SpaceX, the company outer space billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s private company, to build a spacecraft to take astronauts to the moon by early 2024, beat Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetics Inc.
The proposal by Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla Inc., beat that of Bezos, founder of Amazon.com Inc., which partners with Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp. and Draper. Bezos also owns The Washington Post.
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The US space agency announced a contract for the first commercial human landing – which is part of NASA’s Artemis program – in a video conference. NASA says its lander will carry two American astronauts to the lunar surface.
“We have to complete the next landing as quickly as possible,” said Steve Jurczyk, acting NASA administrator. “This is an extraordinary time to be involved in human exploration, for all of humanity.”
“If they reach their milestone, we have a chance in 2024,” added Jurczyk.
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NASA says it will need a test flight to the moon before humans can make such a flight.
NASA official Mark Kirasich said the agency hopes to see all three companies competing for the initial lunar landings race to provide a shuttle to the moon.