Bezos' space company designing large lunar lander

NASA to participate in first Israeli moon mission - Xinhua |

NASA, Israel Space Agency ink deal for moon-bound mission

On Thursday, at the World Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany, the aerospace company unveiled the design for a spacecraft that's meant to shuttle up to four astronauts between an orbiting space station and the moon's surface.

As a part of the agreement, a retro-reflector from NASA will be installed on SpaceIL's unmanned spacecraft.

NASA has signed an agreement with the Israel Space Agency (ISA) to cooperatively utilize the Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL's commercial lunar mission, expected to land on the Moon in 2019.

Last December, Donald Trump signed off on a space policy directive that calls for NASA, along with its private partners, to send astronauts to the Moon and, "eventually", Mars.

The NASA-led program will see the two space agencies build a lunar satellite much like the International Space Station (ISS) that can home astronauts and will orbit the moon. "Innovative partnerships like this are going to be essential as we go forward to the Moon and create new opportunities there".

According to a NASA statement, "the agreement exemplifies the innovative approach that NASA and its global partners are taking to team up with commercial partners to advance important science and exploration objectives on and around the Moon".

The 46-foot single-stage lander is twice as tall as the Lunar Module used on the Apollo missions - and can carry four astronauts (twice as many as Apollo's Module).

It would however need to be refueled between missions, potentially using water from the Moon's surface.

Lockheed says that it will be re-using some of the technology developed for NASA's Orion deep space exploration vehicle including avionics, life support, and communications and navigation systems, to reduce cost and development time for the lander.

Earlier this week, Blue Origin announced it is partnering with the European Space Agency, Airbus and other companies for an worldwide "Moon Race" competition, encouraging groups to develop sustainable technology for a lunar base. A version of the lander could one day end up on Mars.

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