AKIPRESS.COM - NASA has given SpaceX and Blue Origin the nod to develop its new lunar landers which will take the first woman and the next man to the surface of the moon.
The private spaceflight companies, owned by Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, will develop competing systems in parallel, alongside a third company called Dynetics, but NASA will eventually choose one.
NASA has awarded the three companies 10-month contracts that are worth a combined $967m (£770m), with payments subject to the companies reaching specific development milestones.
The contracts are to design and build the human landing systems for NASA's return to the moon by 2024, including the launch and landing vehicles.
The SpaceX Super Heavy rocket, Blue Origin New Glenn Rocket System and the Dynetics Human Landing System are yet to be built or tested.
The three companies will spend the next 10 months refining their lander concepts alongside NASA until the space agency makes a decision about who to continue working with in February next year.