NASA has awarded SpaceX a contract option worth $1.15 billion for a second Artemis moon landing. The contract modification allows SpaceX to develop an upgraded version of its Starship lunar lander for a second crewed mission to the lunar surface in 2027.
In an announcement on Tuesday, NASA said they have executed the contract modification for SpaceX’s Human Landing System (HLS) contract, originally known as Option B. Option B includes $2.9 billion for enhancements to the Starship lander that NASA originally chose for HLS in April 2021.
“Continuing our collaborative efforts with SpaceX through Option B furthers our resilient plans for regular crewed transportation to the lunar surface and establishing a long-term human presence under Artemis. This critical work will help us focus on the development of sustainable, service-based lunar landers anchored to NASA’s requirements for regularly recurring missions to the lunar surface,” said Lisa Watson-Morgan, manager for the Human Landing System program at NASA.
NASA first chose SpaceX to develop a HLS variation of the Starship for Artemis III, which will be the first time in more than 50 years that humans will set foot on the lunar surface.
Prior to Artemis III, SpaceX will fly a demonstration mission to the Moon without humans on board.
SpaceX isn’t the only company developing a HLS for Artemis. NASA is also running a parallel program allowing other US companies to develop additional HLS capabilities for uncrewed and crewed missions to the moon.
Before SpaceX can get to the moon, they will first have to get Starship out of Earth’s atmosphere. The aerospace company is hoping to conduct the first orbital test flight before the end of the year.
According to the original flight plan filed last year Starship will launch from Boca Chica, Texas and travel most of the way around the world before splashing down off the coast of Hawaii.