Blue Origin's lunar lander mockup is ready for NASA simulations

It will help NASA simulate crew interactions.

Josh Valcarcel - NASA - JSC

Blue Origin and its “National Team” partners Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper have delivered their full scale lunar lander mock-up to NASA. The space agency will use the engineering prototype to simulate how it could get “crew, equipment, supplies and samples off and on the vehicle” in future moon missions, according to the press release.

While not a full prototype, the 40-foot-high mock-up does include the descent element based on Blue Origin’s Blue Moon cargo lander and BE-7 LOX/hydrogen engine. It also carries the ascent element developed by Lockheed Martin, including avionics, software, life support hardware and crew interfaces. Some of that tech is from Lockheed Martin’s human-rated, deep-space Orion vehicle that’s supposed to fly on NASA’s Artemis I and II moon test missions.

NASA will test the human design parts of the lunar lander and provide feedback to the Blue Origin team. That’ll include insights into design and human interface aspects like instrument layout, cabin visibility, seating ergonomics, safety and more.

Blue Origin’s National Team is one of three groups that received Human Lander System (HLS) contracts from NASA, along with SpaceX and Dynetics. Where Blue Origin is using a three-stage lander with descent, ascent and transfer stages, however, SpaceX is developing the fully integrated Starship lander that will fly aboard its Super Heavy rocket. Both teams are working to support NASA’s highly ambitious goal to land American men and women on the moon by 2024.