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Human Landing System

A National Team for a National Priority

NASA’s Artemis Program has a bold challenge to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024 – returning Americans to the lunar surface, opening the Moon for business, and building a path to Mars. To achieve these ambitious objectives, NASA released a solicitation for industry to develop the final piece of its Artemis lunar architecture, the Human Landing System (HLS). The National Team integrates four companies each having a head start for this fast-paced program. We are working on a flexible, multi-element, commercial, and sustainable solution for NASA’s HLS effort.

The National Team comprises Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper. Together we are developing a Human Landing System for NASA’s Artemis program to return Americans to the lunar surface by 2024. Our team brings decades of experience with human space flight systems, launch vehicles, propulsion, orbital logistics, deep-space missions, interplanetary navigation, and planetary landings. Our combined experience uniquely positions NASA to execute the Artemis program.

Each partner brings industry-leading solutions matched to the needs of HLS:

Blue Origin is prime contractor, leading program management, systems engineering, safety and mission assurance, and mission engineering. Blue also develops the Descent Element based on the Blue Moon lunar lander and BE-7 engine, both in development for years.

Lockheed Martin develops the reusable Ascent Element vehicle and leads crewed flight operations and training, based on Orion.

Northrop Grumman provides the Transfer Element vehicle that lowers the HLS vehicle from high lunar orbits, based on Cygnus.

Draper leads descent guidance and provides flight avionics.

The Descent Element

Blue Origin is providing the Descent Element that is based on the Blue Moon cargo lunar lander and its BE-7 engine, which have been in development for three years. Variants can meet a range of delivery capabilities for both crew and cargo anywhere on the Moon’s surface, including the lunar South Pole. The lander’s autonomy, guidance, vertical landing architecture, powerful and throttleable liquid engines, and lean operations – leveraging technologies developed and in service on New Shepard.  

Ascent Element

Lockheed Martin is providing the crewed Ascent Element and is leading the crewed flight operations and training. The Ascent Element draws heavily from Lockheed Martin’s experience developing NASA’s Orion spacecraft, from direct build-to-print items to multiple common subsystems.

The Transfer Element

Northrop Grumman Corporation provides the Transfer Element that brings the landing system down toward the Moon, maximizing delivered mass for both crew and cargo. The Transfer Element is based on its Cygnus cargo module, which has flown 13 resupply missions to the International Space Station.    


Flight Avionics and Descent Guidance

Draper leads descent guidance and flight avionics, leveraging crew-rated algorithms that Draper has demonstrated on previous NASA exploration missions.


This Time to Stay

The National Team’s approach to long-term sustainability focuses on reusability to increase affordability. More capable and longer missions to more locations on the surface will enable permanent, sustained surface operations, habitation, and development of lunar resources. The National Team looks forward to embarking on the next steps with NASA and returning to the Moon – this time to stay.


Flexible Performance

The National Team’s Human Landing System architecture is designed for maximum flexibility with minimal changes. The elements can launch on various combinations of U.S. commercial or government launch systems. The system can dock directly with Orion or the lunar Gateway and can land cargo manifests ranging from one to fifteen tons on the lunar surface.


Road to 2024

The National Team’s path to 2024 with NASA includes incremental testing and demonstration of all elements, both on the ground and in space. The National Team will conduct a full-up landing demonstration of the Descent Element in 2023 while also pre-positioning significant payload at the lunar South Pole.

The Artemis Program

We’re Going to the Moon

The National Team’s partnership brings NASA immense experience developing, integrating, and operating launch systems, human-rated spacecraft, and planetary landers. This gives the National Team a head start on every element required for HLS. In addition, significant concurrent private investment delivers the best value for the nation. With a flexible launch approach and system architecture built for sustainability – the National Team will meet this bold national challenge.

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