CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA announced Friday they selected SpaceX to continue development of their first commercial human lander to take the next two Americans to the surface of the moon.
The lunar trip, part of the Artemis program, will send the first woman and person of color to the moon.
SpaceX's rocket will launch four astronauts on the Orion spacecraft into space for a multi-day journey, according to NASA. At one point in the journey, two crew members will travel on the surface of the moon in a human landing system, to be developed by SpaceX.
The lunar lander is called HLS Starship.
The contract is valued at about $2.89 billion.
“This critical step puts humanity on a path to sustainable lunar exploration and keeps our eyes on missions farther into the solar system, including Mars," said Kathy Lueders, NASA's associate administrator for Human Explorations and Operations Mission Directorate.
A group of four astronauts arrived at Florida's Kennedy Space Center Friday afternoon for a liftoff next week to the International Space Station. The two Americans, one French and one Japanese astronauts will blast off on Thursday, which is Earth Day, in SpaceX's third launch in less than a year.