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NASA awards contracts to build spacecrafts to send astronauts back to the moon

NASA awards contracts to build spacecrafts to send astronauts back to the moon

NASA awarded contracts to three companies to design and develop the human landing systems to land the first woman and next man on the moon, the agency announced Thursday

The contracts were awarded to Blue Origin, a Washington state-based company owned by Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosSeat on Bezos-backed space flight sells for million at auction Researchers: Wealth accumulation at Ivy League presents 'fundamental threat to our democracy' Democrats reintroduce bill to create 'millionaires surtax' MORE; Dynetics, an Alabama-based company; and SpaceX, a California-based company founded by Elon MuskElon Reeve MuskSeat on Bezos-backed space flight sells for million at auction Tesla begins delivery of high-performance Plaid model Democrats reintroduce bill to create 'millionaires surtax' MORE

The total combined value for all awarded contracts is $967 million for a 10-month base period. 

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NASA Administrator Jim BridenstineJames (Jim) Frederick BridenstineThe day President Kennedy sent America to the moon Bill Nelson is a born-again supporter of commercial space at NASA Has the Biden administration abandoned the idea of a moon base? MORE said awarding the contracts brings the country one step further toward the goal of landing astronauts on the moon by 2024 as part of the so-called Artemis program.  

“This is the first time since the Apollo era that NASA has direct funding for a human landing system, and now we have companies on contract to do the work for the Artemis program,” Bridenstine said in the announcement. 

The three companies have until February 2021 to refine their concepts. NASA will evaluate which of the contractors will perform initial demonstration missions, and then later select firms for developing sustainable lander systems and sustainable demonstration missions.