Saturday, October 4, 2008

SpaceX offers NASA $80 million lunar cargo lander service

By Rob Coppinger

Space Exploration Technologies has proposed to NASA a robotic cargo lunar lander service that would be priced at $80 million per mission.

SpaceX proposed the lander at a meeting with the US space agency because it is a member of Odyssey Space Research's team for NASA's Altair project office lander evaluation study that began in March. The SpaceX lander would deliver 1,000kg (2,200lb) to the Moon's surface in support of NASA's Altair missions. The unmanned Altair cargo version could deliver 14,000kg to the Moon.

The SpaceX lander is launched by the company's heavy version of its Falcon 9 rocket. The standard version will make its maiden flight in 2009 with a first stage powered by nine Merlin 1C engines. The heavy version would use 27 engines with two Falcon 9 first stages as strap-on boosters.

SpaceX senior mission manager Max Vozoff says: "We presented to the Altair team the idea of a $500 million lunar lander COTS [Commercial Orbital Transportation Services] competition that could bring about vehicles with cargo capabilities of 1,000-3,000kg."

SpaceX is competing in COTS to develop a resupply capability for the International Space Station. NASA's commercial crew and cargo office has examined options for the extension of procurement beyond ISS resupply to lunar services. The options include lunar navigation and communications, sample return and "micro-landers".

Separately, SpaceX achieved a successful orbital launch of its Falcon 1 rocket from Kwajalein Atoll on 29 September. Three earlier launch attempts failed to reach orbit.
Read More HERE.


windbourne said...

what a mistake. I would rather see Armadillo's or New Sky's be used. Both of those were designed for doing up and downs. If lucky, they are refuelable. In addition, 1 ton on the surface is NOT that impressive. If he is able to put 4-5 tons up and down, that would be useful.
I would like to see if the feds will go for it. It would be nice to see us spend some money getting to the moon cheaply AND soon. Combine that with Bigelow and we could be there by 2014.

Joel Raupe said...

You'll have to admit, though, it's a positive breath of fresh air to see someone, anyone, take a stab at bringing lunar access into a competitive arena. One tone isn't much, but it also might fill a second "gap" in intermediate science NASA and the Academies all believe vital prior to "renewed human activity on the moon." Though, I also know we have to resist any tendency toward monopolies.