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NASA Selects Blue Origin And 10 Other Companies For Moon Exploration Technologies

Blue Origin awarded $34.7 million to develop technology for unlimited electricity on the Moon.

Billionaire Jeff Bezos‘ aerospace company Blue Origin was one among the 11 companies chosen by NASA on Tuesday to develop technologies that could support long-term exploration of the Moon and space.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration administrator Bill Nelson (L) shakes hands with Blue Origin Senior Vice President Michael Edmonds after a news conference with NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Human Landing System Program manager Lisa Watson-Morgan (3rd L) and NASA Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Jim Free (R) where it was announced that Blue Origin has been awarded a $3.4 billion contract to build a second Human Landing System (HLS) that will fly on Artemis V during a news conference at NASA headquarters on May 19, 2023, in Washington, DC. The Blue Moon HLS vehicle will carry astronauts back and forth from the lunar surface in 2029 to The Gateway, a year-round space station and laboratory outpost that will orbit the moon and enable long-term deep space exploration. (CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES) 

The 11 companies and their respective projects were chosen under NASA’s sixth tipping point opportunity. The space agency identifies a particular technology as a tipping point if an investment will significantly mature the technology for future application.

As part of the selection, Blue Origin was awarded $34.7 million to advance its Blue Alchemist technology — a proposed commercial solution that produces solar cells from the dust and crushed rock on the surface of the moon.

“The breakthrough (technology) would bootstrap unlimited electricity and power transmission cable anywhere on the surface of the Moon,” the company said in a statement.

Other companies whose projects were chosen to be funded by NASA include Astrobotic Technology, Big Metal Additive, Freedom Photonics, Lockheed Martin, Redwire, Protoinnovations, Psionic, United Launch Alliance, Varda Space Industries, and Zeno Power Systems.

NASA expects these technologies to enable a sustained human presence on the Moon through Artemis and other missions by providing the different infrastructure required. Five of the chosen projects cater to purely enabling Moon exploration while the remaining six cater to other areas of space exploration

The agency’s total estimated contribution to these partnerships is $150 million.

Astrobotic, a company that plans to send a lander to the moon in the forth quarter of this year, was awarded $34 million to demonstrate new power and transmission of the lunar surface.

“LunaGrid-Lite will pave the way for power generation and distribution services on the Moon, and change the game for lunar surface systems like landers, rovers, habitats, science suits, and in-situ resource utilization pilot plants,” said Astrobotic CEO John Thornton in a statement. “With renewable, uninterrupted commercial power service, both crewed, and robotic operations can be made sustainable for long-term operations.”

Produced in association with Benzinga

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