America's next moon landing will be made by private companies, not Nasa.
"Today's announcement marks tangible progress in America's return to the Moon's surface to stay", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
Forward-looking: NASA promises to put astronauts on the moon once again, but first, its CLPS program needs to deliver payloads of equipment and instruments to the lunar surface.
The CLPS programme, which is operated by Nasa's science mission directorate, is meant to buy end-to-end payload services between Earth and the lunar surface using fixed priced contracts.
CLPS will encourage smaller companies to develop 1,100- to 2,200-pound robotic landers that can deliver NASA's scientific payloads to the moon's surface. In addition, Orbit Beyond will use the lander developed by Team Indus, the India-based company that was one of the prize's finalists.
'We want multiple providers that are competing on cost and innovation, Bridenstine said. "What was the culture of our contractors, and were there people that were raising a red flag that we didn't listen to, and ultimately did that culture contribute to the failure and, in those cases, to disaster?" he said.
In addition to Lockheed Martin, NASA selected Draper, which developed computers for the Apollo missions, Astrobotic Technology Inc, Firefly Aerospace Inc, Moon Express and four other companies to potentially develop equipment for the program.
The approach is unusual for NASA, said Harvard-Smithsonian astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell, who said NASA usually maintains control down to the "last rivet of a spacecraft". The long-range goal remains eventual piloted flights to Mars, but only after first using the space station, the moon and lunar orbit as technology test beds to reduce or retire risks.
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations.
Going to the moon isn't new for Draper.
Sending American astronauts into space aboard SpaceX hardware is another, and it appears NASA is going to be a lot more strict about how SpaceX and its CEO behave now that the company is in the midst of building vehicles to carry crew.
Prior to the announcement, Bridenstine spoke on The Hill TV's "Rising" program, emphasizing the objective of the Space Policy Directive's mission to build the capabilities of not only returning to the Moon, but stay as a sustained presence.
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