Boeing proposes lunar lander for NASA crews

Boeing lunar lander
An artist’s conception shows the ascent module taking off from the descent module on Boeing’s lunar lander. (Boeing Illustration)

Boeing says it has submitted its proposal for a lunar lander capable of putting astronauts on the moon by as early as 2024, joining a competition that includes Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture and most likely SpaceX as well.

Today marked the deadline for submissions. NASA says it’s aiming to select at least two proposed landing systems by January for further development. Two separate teams could be selected to build landers for moon missions in 2024 and 2025.

NASA envisions a system that includes a transfer vehicle to ferry a lander from a lunar-orbiting Gateway outpost to an orbit that’s closer to the moon, a descent element that would put astronauts onto the surface, and an ascent element that would carry them back to the Gateway.

But Boeing said its lander wouldn’t require the extra ride on a transfer vehicle. Instead, the linked-up descent and ascent elements could be sent directly to low lunar orbit, using a beefed-up version of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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