Space

Maintaining competition is a focus for NASA in the procurement of lunar landers, according to the agency

Summary

With the study of lunar lander concepts “down to the wire,” NASA authorities claim ensuring competition for a potential procurement is a top priority. Mark Kirasich, who serves as the director in charge of NASA’s advanced exploration systems unit, stated the agency was […]

With the study of lunar lander concepts “down to the wire,” NASA authorities claim ensuring competition for a potential procurement is a top priority. Mark Kirasich, who serves as the director in charge of NASA’s advanced exploration systems unit, stated the agency was still evaluating applications provided by the 3 firms that won Human Landing System (HLS) deals last year during the session of 47th Spaceport Summit on February 24. Those plans are for the project’s “Option A,” which requires support for lander production and an eventual demonstration.

NASA intends to create up to two accolades in the coming years, he said. He stated, “We won’t be taking all three modules to the flight demo.” “Within the next several weeks, we expect to make up to 2- Option A awards here. We’re getting close to the finish line.” NASA had intended to make such announcements by now. NASA told the three HLS groups, led by Dynetics, Blue Origin, and SpaceX, in late January that their agreements’ base period will be extended by two months until April’s completion. The extension will authorize the agency to finish reviewing Option A solutions and “preserve the opportunity to transition” the selected companies from the existing contract smoothly.

He explained, “It’s a tough decision as we have three amazing ideas.” “In the not-too-distant future, we should have a selection official statement.” The lack of financing for HLS is another explanation why selection can be difficult. For the financial year 2021, NASA secured $850 million for the initiative, which is just around a quarter of its original bid. This has forced NASA to reconsider its plans for the mission, and it’s one of the reasons why the previous target of a human landing in the year 2024 is now generally regarded as a pipe dream.

“We got plenty of money from the Congress this year,” Kirasich stated, though he acknowledged that it wasn’t enough. “We’re taking a close look at that.”  Both he as well as Kathy Lueders, NASA’s associate administrator in charge of human exploration and operations, stressed the importance of sustaining competitiveness. “For us, competition — getting several suppliers — is a critical concept. He stated, “It’s on our minds.”

Option A awards, according to Lueders, are just for the production of landers via an initial demonstration. She stated that landing services would be procured separately “over the next year,” similar to how initial Commercial Orbital Transportation Services awards to facilitate the production of commercial cargo vehicles for International Space Station were accompanied by different Commercial Resupply Service agreements for cargo transportation services.