back to article NASA awards $150 million to prototype tech for humans on the Moon, and above it

NASA is distributing $150 million between 11 US organizations developing technology and infrastructure supporting long-term human exploration on the Moon for its Artemis missions and beyond. Artemis is the space agency's most ambitious programme to date, marking the first return of astronauts to the Moon since the historic …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    So it's going to be the Moon after all

    Good. As far as building stuff and ensuring protection and long-term habitability, the Moon is no harder than Mars and much closer in case of emergency.

    Okay, we're talking a three-week delay for emergencies (maybe that can be improved on), but still, better three weeks than at least six months.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Three-week delay

      Stop being sensible.

      Imagine you are on the Moon, packing up your bright shirts, bathing costume and sun cream but where are your passport and tickets? Eventually you find them but you have missed your departing flight. The Starship could take off any time but you have to time your departure so that the Orion capsule will be there when you arrive. You are stuck on the Moon for another 7 days.

      Next time you are more organised and get to the Orion capsule only to find the last redundant power supply has died of old age (Orion has been waiting a long long time for SLS). Replacing the power supply would take months on Earth (that is why you took off with one or two busted) and it is impossible to fix/replace while in space. You will need a new capsule. The Starship you got back from the Moon with has no heat shield or flaps so you cannot get back to Earth in that and although SpaceX could send you another one that cannot get you home either.

      Good news! There is a spare Orion capsule on Earth. Skilled selection of requirements means that the only thing that can get an Orion capsule to you is... SLS. Another one can be assembled, tested and launched in just two years!

    2. Snake Silver badge

      Re: much closer in case of emergency

      That depends. If we start depositing nuclear waste on the far side of the Moon, then have Martin Landau [unfortunately] commanding the base during an incursion, the Moon can be decades away. ;-)

  2. John Robson Silver badge

    "Good news! There is a spare Orion capsule on Earth. Skilled selection of requirements means that the only thing that can get an Orion capsule to you is... SLS. Another one can be assembled, tested and launched in just two years!"

    If I am correct then there is an alternative solution... both dragon and orion use the NDS docking port, so you could simply lob a dragon over to the NRHO for transfers.

    The dragon was originally designed to deal with the heat loadings of a return from lunar distances (I don't know if the heatshield has been derated from that original intent), and it certainly has the space and life support for a trip back.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge


      The heat shield has been de-specced from return from Mars and is now only good for a few re-entries from LEO. AFAIK, performance for return from the Moon is not known outside SpaceX/NASA. There are other issues like the radio is only rated for LEO. These problems are probably solvable with time, money and a Falcon Heavy. The big problem is if Dragon + FH can do the mission for under $250M why in cis-Luna space do with need an SLS+Orion for over $4B?

      Although it would be sensible to plan a FH+Dragon rescue mission such a plan cannot receive government funding or the possibility of being discovered with an FOI query. Remember the real purpose of Artemis.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Politics

        Also the FH isn't man rated as far as I know - but lobbing an unoccupied dragon doesn't need it to be.

        If the lunar starship can manage enough fuel to return to an LEO then the alternative journey is very attractive indeed.

        LEO to moon requires 5670m/s (

        A return trip would take the same (assuming the lunar starship can't aerobrake)

        Lunar starship apparently has about ~9km/s available: Plenty to get to the moon and then get back to a 100km orbit (another 1730) with a healthy safety margin - lifting an additional few hundred tons of propellant is quite costly though.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This is all only about mining Helium 3

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: H3

      He3 may be on the list, but way down. Top of the list is jobs: Tax payers' money → SLS contractors in 50 states → campaign contributions → politicians' jobs

      After a long gap there are other reasons, but the order is very subjective:

      *) Flags & foot prints, national pride, look how cool we are.

      *) Soft power: play nice with us and you can claim your country is making a significant contribution to Artemis.

      *) For Science! - we will probably learn things from studying regolith.

      *) Paper weights. Brag to your friends with one of these these really expensive Moon rocks.

      *) Learn how to build Moon base: tourist destination and nation pride brag "First $Nationality person to visit Moon Base Alpha"

      *) Learn how to convert regolith into solar panels, living space and oxygen for rocket propellant

      *) Far side of the Moon radio telescope without all the noise from transmitters on Earth

      *) Practice for Mars

      *) Jeff wants tax payers' money for his rocket too

      There are probably many more insignificant reasons but really only one stands out.

      1. Mahhn

        Re: H3

        "The value of helium-3 on the Moon at current prices would be $1.543 quadrillion. "

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: H3

          If you put that much helium on the market the price would crash though.

          And you can't mine all the helium from the moon...

          It's like saying that the iron on earth is worth (35% of 6e24kg at scrap rates of 13p/kg) £27 sextillion....

          1. Mahhn

            Re: H3

            I was sharing the estimated value, that is all. And that was from years ago.

  4. Marty McFly Silver badge

    Wow. A whole $150 million.

    For context..... When all program costs were considered, NASA spent around 10x that per launch for the Space Shuttle (in 2010 dollars).

  5. Zack Mollusc

    no-light lunar landing technology

    What the smeg is "no-light lunar landing technology "?

    1. Alistair Silver badge

      Re: no-light lunar landing technology

      There's a Pink Floyd album, you need to be high as a m$#$%king kite, crank the tunes and the answer will be revealed.

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: no-light lunar landing technology

        If we go back to the moon then let's reissue the Sopwith Camel album, "The Miraculous Hump Returns from the Moon" ... I always hear that as the best psychedelic album from the early seventies and I still play it every week ... I recorded the LP that I bought when it was released onto my phone. I'm always happy to listen to it and everyone laughs to hear the songs these days... yes I'd love some Astronaut Food!

  6. Dizzy Dwarf


    What an awful image.

  7. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    a battery powered by americium-241

    Is americium-241 genuinely useful and the best option in this case and the element name is a serendipitous coincidence or have we got a bit of flag waving tech here?

    Despite the facetious wording, it's a genuine question. I have no idea what might make the best radio-active fuel cell.

    1. ian 22

      Re: a battery powered by americium-241

      Thanks for asking. I (and other enquiring minds) want to know.

  8. Great Bu

    $9M Lockheed Martin for...

    All the other awards make sense but what are Lockheed Martin doing for their $9,000,000.00 ? "Stuff" ?? Space Lasers ?

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