Human Landing System

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Human Landing System
a render of an artemis lunar lander
a stand in render for the HLS prior to a final design
Country of originUnited States
ApplicationsManned lunar landing
Spacecraft typeLunar Lander
Design life6.5 Days
Crew capacity>=2
StatusIn Development
Maiden launchArtemis 3; 2024
Artemis Logo NASA.png

The Human landing System (HLS) is an ongoing program by NASA that aims to facilitate the development of two commercial spacecraft capable of ferrying astronauts from the Lunar Gateway to the Lunar surface as part of the Artemis program. However, as Gateway was removed from the Artemis 3 flight plan, HLS will also be able to dock directly with the Orion Spacecraft for Lunar landing missions. NASA will be awarding contracts to two commercial companies to build these landing systems. The structure of this program is often compared to that of the Commercial Crew Program.


NASA has set some minimum standards for the HLS: 1,907 pounds (865 kilograms) of payload delivered to the lunar surface, with a goal of 2,127 pounds (965 kilograms) 6.5 days on the lunar surface two spacewalks permission, with the goal of five spacewalks, using NASA-provided spacesuits 77 pounds (35 kilograms) of sample return capability, with a goal of 220 pounds (100 kilograms)[4]


Birth of the HLS Program

In December of 2019, Donald Trump signed the Authorization Bill for the fiscal year 2020. This included the new NASA Authorization Bill that gave 1.3 billion dollars in extra funding to accelerate the 2028 Moon landing goal to 2024. $600 million of that was dedicated to starting the development of the first manned lunar lander since the Apollo program's Lunar Module (LM).[1] [2] [3].

Companies Begin Competing for Contracts

NASA began the process of awarding the first round of HLS contracts in late 2019. Several companies then pitched their designs; including SpaceX, a Dynetics led team, a Blue Origin led coalition nicknamed "National Team", The Boeing Corporation, and a small San Antonio based company named Vivace.

In late April of 2020, the first round of contracts were awarded to three companies to develop their proposals over a 10 month period. The "National Team" led by Blue Origin was the prime contractor, receiving a total of $579 million from this contract. SpaceX and the Dynetics led team were also picked, with SpaceX receiving $135 million and Dynetics receiving $235 million.

Final Design Selection

After the 10 month development period, NASA will pick two of the three companies to actually build their lander proposals for future Artemis surface missions.

SpaceX's Proposal[edit]

Design Overview

SpaceX's HLS proposal uses a modified version of their SpaceX Starship orbiter that is currently in development. The Starship HLS, which is often nicknamed "MoonShip", will be a single-stage design.

Some major design changes that differentiate MoonShip from Starship is the addition of 6 engines on the side of the hull dedicated for landing (to mitigate the risk of dust kickup) and the removal of all aero surfaces (as aero surfaces are not necessary to land on the Moon)

Delivery Options

SpaceX's "Moonship" will be delivered to Lunar orbit by first launching into Low Earth Orbit on a Starship "Superheavy" first stage booster. It will then be refuelled by Starship tankers before performing it's Trans-lunar injection and docking with Orion/Gateway.


After leaving the Lunar surface, Moonship can be refuelled by Starship tankers and reused (either by returning to Low Earth Orbit or by waiting for Starship tankers to fly out to Lunar orbit)

See also[edit]

Other articles of the topic Spaceflight : Cosmology, bluShift Aerospace, Ariane flight VA248, TMRO, Beta Ursae Majoris, Ariane flight VA254, Asgardia Independent Research Center
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  • List of man-made objects on the Moon
  • Orion (spacecraft)
  • Artemis Program
  • List of crewed lunar lander designs



  1. Bridenstine, Jim. "NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine's Statement on FY 2020 funding for Artemis". Twitter. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  2. "GAO report: Opportunities Exist to Strengthen Analyses and Plans for Moon Landing" (PDF). Government Accountability Office. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  3. "Human Landing System NextSTEP-2 Appendix H" (PDF). Retrieved December 21, 2019.


External links[edit]

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