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NASA picked Elon Musk’s SpaceX to receive $2.9 billion to build a lunar lander, as part of the Artemis mission to send humans to the Moon by 2024, The Washington Post reported. It’s a major vote of confidence in SpaceX from NASA — as no other company received money.
There were three major contenders for the project. SpaceX beat out Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, working with a selection of other aerospace companies, and Dynetics, a defense contractor. NASA had previously rewarded all three contenders with a combined $967 million to develop lunar lander concepts.
NASA was expected to pick two companies to receive contracts today on the first Moon landing mission since the Apollo program. So giving the contract to SpaceX alone is a slap in the face to Blue Origin in particular — and its team, which included Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. In the commercial crew program, for instance, both Boeing and SpaceX received contracts. The redundancy gave NASA options in case one of the companies didn’t deliver.