NASA selects nine USA companies to vie for moon program funding
NASA selects nine USA companies to vie for moon program funding
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30 November, 2018, 01:06
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (far left) and Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen (far right) pose for a photograph with the representatives of the nine US companies that are eligible to bid on NASA delivery services to the lunar surface through Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contracts.
The goal is to get science and technology experiments to the surface of the moon as soon as possible, and the first flight could be next year.
Astrobotic's Peregrine Lunar Lander is created to deliver up to a 35-kilogram payload to the lunar surface.
But under this approach, NASA won't be alone in hiring these companies - the agency hopes to spur development that the commercial sector can also utilize.
"Under Space Policy Directive-1, the agency will lead an innovative and sustainable exploration of the Moon together with commercial and worldwide partners", NASA wrote in its blog.
NASA regularly awards contracts to private companies for work on its various missions.
NASA released a draft request for proposals April 27 that called for US companies to "introduce new technologies to deliver payloads to the Moon", NASA said when announcing the initial request for proposals.
The Trump administration has cited Moon missions a key element of the 2019 NASA budget.
"They will compete for tasks that we'll put out in the weeks and months from now", explained Thomas Zurbuchen, head of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, during the press conference.
Notably, Astrobotic, Moon Express and Orbit Beyond have their origins in the Google Lunar X Prize, which ended without a victor reaching the moon.
While Lockheed has been involved with NASA for years, others like Astrobotic Technology and Masten Space Systems are relatively new.
"In conjunction with our Beta launch vehicle and our partnership with Intuitive Machines, Firefly will provide an integrated lunar services offering, from the launch pad to the surface of the moon", said Firefly CEO Tom Markusic via email. "It marks a first step in returning American astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972, for long-term exploration and use", the president said during the signing. "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".
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