Marshall Space Flight Center taking lead on next manned lunar lander

Marshall Space Flight Center taking lead on next manned lunar lander

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The Marshall Space Flight Center will take the lead role in managing the next spacecraft that will fly to the moon.

Marshall engineers are not only developing the deep space rocket to fly toward the moon, but now those at Marshall will manage the lunar lander program. The lander that will actually transport astronauts to the moon’s surface. In the Apollo days, it was known as the LEM.

The goal is for that vehicle to transport astronauts to the moon from the orbiting Lunar Gateway in 2024.

This is a shakeup within the space agency, taking this responsibility away from the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said Marshall’s new role was all about Huntsville’s expertise in propulsion because this three-piece lander will need a lot of power.

“Think of a small space station in orbit around the moon, a reusable command service module that will be in orbit around the moon for 15 years at least. Minimum, it’s designed for 15 years. Once they’re on that gateway they’re going to transfer into what we’re here to announce today: a landing system that will take the next man and the first woman to the south pole of the moon within five years and that’s what we’re doing here ta NASA today. That landing system is going to be led out of Marshall Space Flight Center right here in Huntsville, Alabama," Bridenstine said at Friday’s announcement in Huntsville.

Economically, this program will cost $1.6 billion.

“Once again, Alabama has found itself leading the charge in aerospace technology. With today’s news, Huntsville and their outstanding workforce will be at the forefront of taking man back to the moon,” said Rep. Bradley Byrne.

The human lander program manager is Lisa Watson-Morgan, a veteran engineer at Marshall and Huntsville native.

As far as jobs, she will manage 363 people under the lander program with 140 being in Huntsville.

“And I think it is poetic that the birthplace of America’s space program, is also the birthplace of the project manager who is going to lead this effort and coordinate those 360 employees with Lisa Watson-Morgan. She was born in our community. I think that is fantastic,” Rep. Mo Brooks said at the announcement.

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