SpaceX has secured a $2.89bn contract from Nasa to develop the first commercial human lander to carry two astronauts to the lunar surface.

The firm-fixed-price, milestone-based contract is part of the agency’s Artemis programme to explore new parts of the Moon.

The programme will see the first woman and next man land on the lunar surface as early as 2024.

SpaceX was competing for the contract against aerospace manufacturer Blue Origin and Leidos Holdings unit Dynetics.

Nasa human explorations and operations mission directorate associate administrator Kathy Lueders said: “With this award, Nasa and our partners will complete the first crewed demonstration mission to the surface of the Moon in the 21st century as the agency takes a step forward for women’s equality and long-term deep space exploration.

“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.”

Nasa’s Space Launch System rocket will launch four astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft for their multi-day journey to lunar orbit.

Two crew members will transfer to the SpaceX human landing system (HLS) for the final leg of their journey to the Moon.

The news comes a few days after SpaceX announced that it raised approximately $1.16bn in equity financing over the last two months.

Last month, an uncrewed SpaceX Starship prototype rocket failed to land safely after a test launch from Boca Chica, Texas.