Here’s how Blue Origin’s human lander system will carry astronauts to the lunar surface

Blue Origin was among the companies selected by NASA to develop and build a human lander system for its Artemis missions, which include delivering the next man and first woman to the surface of the Moon in 2024. The Jeff Bezos-founded space company chose to deliver a bid that included a space industry “dream team” of subcontractors, including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper, and its Artemis Human Landing System will use the expertise of all three.

The Blue Origin bid was one of three that ended up winning a contract form NASA, alongside SpaceX’s Starship and a human landing system developed by Dynetics working with a range of subcontractors. Blue Origin originally debuted its vision of a human lander last year, first with the unveiling of its Blue Moon craft in May, and then with the announcement of its cross-industry “national team” at IAC later in the year.

Now, the company has released an animation of how its landing system will work, including Blue Moon docking with a transfer element to bring astronauts over from the Orion capsule that will carry them to the Moon from Earth, as well as the descent stage to actually land, and the ascent stage to take off again from the disposable lander platform and return the astronauts to their ride home.

Here’s where each company is involved and what they’re contributing to what you see above: Blue Origin is building the lander proper, which is that platform with legs you see first in the video, and which is left behind on the Moon at the end. Lockheed Martin is building the bubble-like vehicle that attaches to the lander, and which takes off from it at the end. Northrop Grumman is building the long cylinder that connects up with the lander and provides its propulsion through low lunar orbit as it readies to land, and then disconnects before the actual descent. Draper is behind the senses across all of this, delivering avionics for flight control and the landing itself.

As mentioned, Blue Origin is one of three companies selected by NASA to develop these lander systems, but its team brings to the table a lot of combined expertise in spaceflight and spacecraft development. The launch system itself will arrive separately from the astronauts on board Orion, making the trip either via a New Glenn rocket built by Blue Origin, which is still in development, or via the United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan, another in-development spacecraft set to take off for the first time next year.