Blue Origin National Team Delivers Human Lunar Lander Mockup to NASA

Blue Origin National Team Delivers Human Lunar Lander Mockup to NASA
The Blue Origin National Team’s engineering mockup of the crew lander vehicle at NASA Johnson Space Center’s (JSC) iconic Building 9. Credit: Blue Origin

For & RocketSTEM

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL –  The Blue Origin National team of four US aerospace companies has delivered a full scale engineering mockup of their proposed human lunar lander to NASA’s Johnson Space Center as party of NASA’s ambitious Artemis moon program to return astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024.

The Artemis Human Landing System (HLS) lander has been set up in the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility (SVMF), NASA Johnson Space Center’s (JSC) iconic Building 9, says Blue Origin in an Aug. 20 statement.

The Blue Origin HLS) National Team  is comprised of Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper.

“The HLS National Team has delivered an engineering mockup of its lunar lander at @NASA_Johnson. This @NASA #Artemis program technical milestone helps the design meet the requirements for future lunar astronauts. @LockheedMartin @northropgrumman @DraperLab,” Blue Origin tweeted with a video of the mockup.

The Blue Origin National Team is one of three groups selected by NASA in late April to work on human lunar landers.

Marking a significant step forward in landing Americans on the Moon by 2024 NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced the selection of three U.S. companies – Blue Origin, SpaceX and Dynetics – to design and develop the critical human landing systems (HLS) under the agency’s Artemis moon landing program.

Blue Origin won by far the largest contract as leader of a ‘National Team’ that includes Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Draper – valued at $579 million, NASA announced on April 30.

3 U.S companies – Blue Origin, Dynetics and SpaceX – were selected by NASA to start design and development of human landing systems for Artemis astronauts to land on the Moon starting in 2024. Credits: NASA

The 40 foot tall full-scale engineering mockup includes two elements of the National Team’s multi-element architecture – the Ascent Element (AE) based on Lockheed Martin’s  Orion crew exploration vehicles that will fly astronauts to the Moon and back and  the Descent Element (DE) based on a Blue Origin design leveraged from their robotic cargo lander

The mockup is considered an update to Apollo’s Lunar Module (LM) and will be used to validate the National Team’s approaches for getting crew, equipment, supplies, and samples off and on the vehicle, according to Blue Origin.

“Our National Team solution for the @NASA #Artemis Human Landing System program offers a sustainable architecture, with in-space demonstrations, and flexibility on launch to achieve our return to the Moon to stay @LockheedMartin @northropgrumman @DraperLab,” Blue Origin tweeted.

It will be used by NASA and the JSC Astronaut Office through 2020 to perform engineering and crew operations tests with astronauts aiming to fly the final system within several years. It will also be upgraded over time to increase the fidelity to the final design.

“Testing this engineering mockup for crew interaction is a step toward making this historic mission real,” said Brent Sherwood, vice president of Advanced Development Programs, Blue Origin, in a statement.

“The learning we get from full-scale mockups can’t be done any other way. Benefitting from NASA’s expertise and feedback at this early stage allows us to develop a safe commercial system that meets the agency’s needs.”

Diagram of Blue Origin National Team’s Artemis Human Landing System. Credit: Blue Origin

The other two elements include “the Transfer Element, a propulsive stage that starts the lander on its descent trajectory from lunar orbit, is based on Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus vehicle that provides logistics resupply to the International Space Station; and Draper provides descent guidance and avionics to the National Team.”

Blue Origin was founded by billionaire Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine speaks to the media at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center backdropped by full scale Mars 2020 rover replica and iconic VAB on July 30, 2020. Credit: Ken Kremer/

NASA’s goal under Project Artemis is to land the first woman and next man on the lunar south pole surface by 2024 during the Artemis 3 mission when a crew of astronauts will launch in the Orion Crew Capsule atop the mammoth Space Launch System rocket – currently under development by NASA.

Eventually by 2028 NASA aims to establish a sustainable human exploration of the Moon for the first time in history.

The National Team Artemis Human Landing System will launch atop NASA’s SLS mega rocket.

The human lander is the critical missing piece to place Americans back on the lunar surface for the first time in nearly 50 years.

No American or human has set foot on the Moon since 1972 during the Apollo 17 mission – NASA’s last human foray to the Moon’s surface.

President Trump has made Project Artemis a centerpiece of his Administration

Very unfortunately, the US House did not fully fund the 2021 NASA budget request for NASA. Instead they keep the NASA budget flat from 2020 – which would effectively significantly delay the 2024 landing goal.

The US Senate has yet to act.

The core stage pathfinder mock-up for NASA’s Space Launch System megarocket was fully offloaded from NASA’s Pegasus barge on Sept. 30, 2019 after arriving at the turn basin Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sept. 27, 2019 – dramatically backdropped by the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) where it will be moved to for a month of critical lifting and stacking maneuvers inside. Credit: Ken Kremer/

Watch my Aug. 14 guest host and Aug 3 interview appearances at ‘Stay Curious’ show at the American Space Museum about successful Mars Perseverance launch, successful splashdown SpaceX Crew Dragon on Demo-2 1st commercial mission as well as upcoming Crew-1, Artemis Moon mission, SpaceX Starlink and more:

Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Commercial Crew and Artemis and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Demo-2, Starlink, X-37B, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: – – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at

Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events

Aug 24//25 – 7 PM: Quality Inn Kennedy Space Center, Titusville, FL. “ULA Delta IV Heavy, NASA Mars 2020 rover and SpaceX Crew-1, Demo-2, GPS, Starlink and more launches.” Free. In hotel lobby. Photos for sale

Blue Origin’s founder, Jeff Bezos, announces the national team at the 2019 International Astronautical Congress in Washington, D.C. on Oct 22, 2019. Credit: Blue Origin


Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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