Moon lander concept unveiled by Boeing as NASA eyes return to lunar surface – Fox News

Boeing has shown off its crewed Moon lander idea, one it says will require the “fewest steps to the Moon” as NASA looks to return to the lunar surface in 2024.

The design, which Boeing sent to the space agency earlier this week, will deliver the lander’s Ascent Element and Descent Element to lunar orbit in one rocket.

Boeing says this is for “maximum capability and crew safety,” ultimately reducing the complexity of the mission.

“Using the lift capability of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) Block 1B, we have developed a ‘Fewest Steps to the Moon’ approach that minimizes mission complexity, while offering the safest and most direct path to the lunar surface,” said Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Space and Launch for Boeing Defense, Space & Security, in a statement.

Following exploration of the lunar surface by astronauts, the crew lifts off from the moon inside the Ascent Element in this artist concept. The Descent Element remains on the moon having already performed its role of flying the crew from lunar orbit to the surface. (Credit: Boeing)

Following exploration of the lunar surface by astronauts, the crew lifts off from the moon inside the Ascent Element in this artist concept. The Descent Element remains on the moon having already performed its role of flying the crew from lunar orbit to the surface. (Credit: Boeing)

NASA REVEALS ITS VISION FOR THE ARTEMIS MOON LANDER THAT WILL RETURN US ASTRONAUTS TO THE LUNAR SURFACE

In July, NASA revealed details of its vision for the Artemis Moon Lander that will return U.S. astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024. Separately that month, the space agency posted a notice to the Federal Business Opportunities website that it was seeking “proposals from industry for the development of integrated human lunar landers and execution of crewed flight demonstrations to the lunar surface by 2024.”

On Sept. 30, the government space agency officially launched the call for the Moon lander ideas, according to Space.com.

NASA’s Artemis program is attempting to use a so-called “stepping stone” that would involve building a Gateway station near lunar orbit, using the Orion capsule and other transfer vehicles; Boeing said its lunar lander would not need the additional steps.

Boeing’s Human Lander System heads into orbit on the strength of a Space Launch System rocket in this artist concept. The mission architecture calls for sending the integrated lander into orbit where it will rendezvous with astronauts aboard Orion or the Gateway before taking the crew to the lunar surface. (Credit: Boeing)

Boeing’s Human Lander System heads into orbit on the strength of a Space Launch System rocket in this artist concept. The mission architecture calls for sending the integrated lander into orbit where it will rendezvous with astronauts aboard Orion or the Gateway before taking the crew to the lunar surface. (Credit: Boeing)

“Boeing’s integrated lander also can carry itself from lunar orbit to the surface without an additional transfer stage or ‘space tug,’ further reducing launches and simplifying the steps to a successful landing,” the company added in the statement.

However, it would require the SLS, a massive booster that has been criticized repeatedly by lawmakers for delays and cost overruns.

“The SLS has an unmatched lift capability that builds on proven flight components,” Boeing added in the statement. “This approach shortens development time and lowers risk, enabling NASA to safely land on the moon’s surface by 2024.”

Boeing is listed as one of the contractors on the SLS, building its core stage, according to NASA.

The Artemis program aims to land American astronauts on the Moon by 2024 and establish a sustainable human presence on Earth’s natural satellite. Artemis will also make history by landing the first woman on the Moon.

After Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the Moon on July 20, 1969, only 10 more men, all Americans, walked on the lunar surface. The last NASA astronaut to set foot on the Moon was Apollo 17 Mission Commander Gene Cernan on Dec. 14, 1972.

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Fox News’ James Rogers contributed to this story.