SpaceX has won a lucrative NASA contract to build the first lunar lander since the Apollo program. The announcement comes as a big surprise, as the Elon Musk-led company beat out a pair of promising competitors, including Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin.
Sorry Blue Origin and Dynetics, but SpaceX will have the privilege of putting its logo on the next Moon lander, as NASA announced at a press conference today. The move highlights NASA’s growing trust in its commercial partner, as the space agency prepares to return astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972.
“This is a gutsy, and risky, choice by NASA,” Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told me via Twitter. “If Starship works as planned, it will provide a lot more capability than the other entrants. But that’s a significant if.”