Heading to the moon: NASA asking for help with next astronaut moon lander

Before the next people set foot on the Moon, with a planned arrival in 2024, those astronauts will need to learn how to fly the spacecraft they’ll land on the surface. (Dominic Hart, NASA Ames)

NASA is asking for help creating the next astronaut moon lander.

It announced Wednesday that it wants American companies to propose their concepts that would be capable of transporting astronauts between lunar orbit and the surface of the moon.

The return of humans to the moon would be under Artemis. A program that strives to land the first woman and first person of color on the moon.

The goal is the have a base camp on the lunar surface and have the Gateway spacecraft in lunar orbit. This would allow astronauts and robots to explore more on the moon.

This specific proposal would be for Artemis III, a program that will land the first astronauts on the moon in more than 50 years.

The companies who send in proposals must meet the following requirements:

  • Have the capability to dock Gateway
  • Increase crew capacity
  • Transport more science and technology to surface

The first test of the Artemis series will happen in April, with a wet dress rehearsal test planned for April 1-3.

According to NASA, “the approximately two-day wet dress rehearsal test will demonstrate the team’s ability to load cryogenic, or super-cold, propellants into the rocket, conduct a launch countdown, and practice safely removing propellants at the launch pad. After wet dress rehearsal, engineers will roll the rocket and spacecraft back to the Vehicle Assembly Building for final checkouts before launch.”

Trajectory for Artemis I, the first integrated flight test of NASA’s deep space exploration system: the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the ground systems at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (NASA)

The demonstration mission for Artemis III will happen no earlier than April 2025.