NASA chooses nine companies to bid on flying to the Moon
NASA chooses nine companies to bid on flying to the Moon
Lockheed, Draper among NASA partners for new lunar payload services
30 November, 2018, 18:45
Anderson predicted that NASA would spread the money among three or four bidders, to encourage the development of a competitive private space industry in the United States.
"We're going at high speed", said Thomas Zurbuchen, head of NASA's science mission directorate, which will lead the effort. "When we go to the moon, we want to be one customer of many customers in a robust marketplace between the Earth and the moon".
The providers will compete on cost and innovation so NASA can accomplish more than ever, he said.
The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration is soliciting proposals to deliver science and technology payloads, such as small rovers and instruments, to the lunar surface for eventual human exploration of the moon.
"We're returning to the Moon, preparing to go beyond to Mars".
The last US mission to the moon was Apollo 17 in 1972. "We are eager to add NASA to our existing manifest of commercial customers, and get America back on the surface as soon as possible".
This announcement and its press conference demonstrate the continuing shift in NASA's direction, driven by Space Policy Directive 1.
NASA sees this as a step toward long-term study and human exploration of the moon - and eventually Mars.
"We have been maturing our lander technology over the last 10 years in preparation for this day", Matthew Kuhns chief engineer with Masten Space Systems and SpaceFlight Insider contributor said when asked what this means for Masten.
"The agency will look at a number of factors when comparing the bids, such as technical feasibility, price, and schedule", NASA said in the statement. No money was awarded Thursday.
In a release, Draper said it planned to build an uncrewed lander dubbed Artemis-7 that would be able to "complete sample collection and return, demonstrate the use of in-space resources and reduce risk for the production of human landers".
Bridenstine recently said he wants to have humans on Mars by the mid-2030s.
Essentially, NASA's new Moon strategy will involve using private companies to build the stuff they send their experiments to the Moon on.
Moon Express: A Cape Canaveral-based company dedicated to expanding commercial opportunities in general on the Moon.
NASA already is utilizing the private sector on a commercial basis. The two organizations are collaborating to fly astronauts to the International Space Station. SpaceX and Northrop Grumman, formerly Orbital ATK, have been making space station shipments since 2012.
Bridenstine said it will be up to the companies to arrange their own rocket rides.
Firefly Aerospace designs, manufactures and operates launch vehicles for the small satellite and Draper works to provide payload operations guidance systems for the lunar lander.
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