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Alabama’s Dynetics one of 11 American companies advancing lunar lander

Alabama’s Dynetics was one of 11 companies selected by NASA last month to participate in the next phase of its lunar lander development program.

According to Andy Crocker, director for space strategy and lunar program manager at Dynetics, NASA selected the Huntsville-based company to focus on the descent element of the Artemis Human Landing System program.

“The descent element is the portion of the lander that will provide a safe and precise landing on the Moon,” Crocker outlined to Yellowhammer News. “We were chosen to develop a descent element study and five descent element prototypes.”

NASA’s stated purpose behind its NextSTEP public/private partnership is the reduction of costs to taxpayers and the encouragement of early private investment in the lunar economy.

“This new approach doesn’t prescribe a specific design or number of elements for the human landing system,” explained Greg Chavers, human landing system formulation manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. “NASA needs the system to get our astronauts on the surface and return them home safely, and we’re leaving a lot of the specifics to our commercial partners.”

This project is the latest among many in which the state of Alabama and its aerospace industry have figured prominently, as Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has long supported.

At a hearing earlier this spring, Shelby received a commitment from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine that the Space Launch System (SLS) would power astronauts to the moon. SLS is a specialized launch vehicle designed, developed and managed by Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, with numerous components being built by Alabama companies. SLS has been billed as the only rocket powerful enough to carry the Orion spacecraft, astronauts and supplies to the moon in one launch.

Dynetics’ Crocker says his company is ready to do its part.

“Our team is eager to take on this challenge,” he said. “We’ve established an agile team of experts that is focused on affordability and lean system integration. This is an exciting time for our country and we are looking forward to seeing humans land on the Moon by 2024.”

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News

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