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NASA Updates Its Lunar Lander Proposal Plans

NASA updated the procurement filing for its lunar landing mission. The program designated as Appendix H by NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP program) called for an integrated lander system that comprised an ascent as well as the descent module in addition to the transfer stage. This notice was issued on 26th April updating the earlier one issued on 8th April which had included soliciting proposals solely for the ascent stage.

However, the new solicitation is yet to be formally issued. NASA stated that the solicitation was likely to be issued on its NextSTEP website towards the end of the month. It would incorporate studies and options for development of lunar landers. Proposals are solicited from the private industry to fulfill its requirements for enabling human landing on the moon by around 2024. This would include developing and integrating a system that would make possible a crewed landing on the moon in accordance with the requirements of NASA and the industry.

NASA earlier had adopted a two-track tactic with regard to vehicle development for human lunar landings. In February, proposals were solicited for transfer vehicle studies as well as descent stages under NextSTEP’s Appendix E program. The inclusion of ascent stages came in after Vice President Mike Pence’s speech which called for a human landing on the moon in the next five years. Jim Bridenstine, the NASA administrator had disclosed about the changed plans at the 35th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs on 9th April. He had stated there that the development program would be carried out under public-private partnerships.

The updated proposal enables players who missed the opportunity afforded in the earlier solicitations from NASA or failed to obtain awards to come into the fray. Such new players would get an opportunity to fulfill the NASA requirements under its Appendix H program.