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NASA wants these private companies to help it get to the moon

02 December 2018
NASA wants these private companies to help it get to the moon

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on Thursday announced nine U.S. companies including Lockheed Martin Corp. that are going to compete for funding NASA's long-term moon program.

NASA has announced that nine United States space companies are now eligible to bid on its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contracts.

"Today's announcement marks tangible progress in America's return to the Moon's surface to stay", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

The private companies will be working to build small robotic spacecraft that can carry at least 22 pounds (10 kg) of scientific instruments and equipment to the lunar surface. The agency said it will consider a number of factors when comparing bids, such as price, schedule and most importantly, technical feasibility.

Moon Express: A Cape Canaveral-based company dedicated to expanding commercial opportunities in general on the Moon. In fact, 2023 is the same year NASA plans to launch EM-2 around the moon.

For the new missions, the company said it will use its uncrewed lander, Artemis-7, to complete sample selection and return, contribute to plans for the eventual return of humans to the moon's surface. Carpooling to the Moon - perhaps with academics or another company - should reduce the cost, he said. There was President Trump's Space Policy Directive One for one, and the involvement of both commercial and worldwide partners.

The vehicle had been in development for about a decade to explore a polar region of the Moon.

Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's associate administrator for the science directorate, said there were already many experiments that scientists know they want to send to the moon.

Instead of running a government-funded space program, like Apollo, the USA space agency will buy services, essentially becoming a customer to private businesses that build their own spacecraft. Meanwhile, a startup called Orbit Beyond is in the running for NASA's moon payloads, and it's working with TeamIndus, the Indian spaceflight company that nearly won the Lunar X Prize competition. Of the company considered only if they agreed to deliver the first mission until the end of 2021, in connection with NASA about the proposals earlier this year.

The dressing down came days after NASA ordered a safety review of Boeing and SpaceX, both under contract to fly astronauts to the International Space Station.

A spokesperson for SpaceX declined to comment on Bridenstine's remarks, the report said.

"On the Gateway, America and its partners will prepare to transit deep space, testing new technologies and systems as we build the infrastructure to support missions to the surface of the Moon and prepare for the epochal mission to Mars", the agency said.

Going to the moon isn't new for Draper.

NASA sees this as a step toward long-term study and human exploration of the moon - and eventually Mars.