NASA selects nine U.S. companies to vie for moon programme funding

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"We are building a domestic American capability to get back and forth to the surface of the moon", said Jim Bridenstine, the NASA administrator.

This announcement and its press conference demonstrate the continuing shift in NASA's direction, driven by Space Policy Directive 1.

The goal is to get small science and technology experiments to the surface of the moon as soon as possible.

The Trump administration also directed NASA to seek and encourage additional private sector participation. Its team is comprised of space tech and support services for the Nasa programme.

In the framework of CLPS, the Agency will award multiple contracts for the lunar mission within the next 10 years.

Each consortium will file bids with NASA, which will issue contracts based on price, time to launch, and technical feasibility.

If SpaceX's first orbital launch and later uncrewed missions fly without, the company intends to fly a in 2023.

"It will reduce risk".

Most of the nine companies approved for bidding say they will not be ready to begin operations until at least 2021.

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"The intent to return to the moon is to do some science exploration, to land and explore the lunar surface and then finally pave the way for eventual human return to the moon", Dent said in a phone interview.

If SpaceX's or Blue Origin's rockets come online, one NASA executive said the agency would "eventually retire" SLS.

The nine companies range from startups to aerospace giants, reported Space News, which added that while they are eligible for future contracts to deliver payloads to the surface of the moon, there is "no guarantee of business for any of them". This new plan hopes to allow for a diverse array of customers send their payloads to the Moon.

NASA is anticipating the emergence of two reusable, and presumably more affordable, mega-rockets that private aerospace companies are creating. SpaceX and Boeing are planning to start transporting astronauts to the space station sometime next year.

The American plan for space exploration will unfold in stages, starting with the transition from the current model of human space activities in low-Earth orbit to a model where the government is only one customer for commercial services.

"Lockheed's lander is a little bit larger than some of the others", said Joe Landon, vice president of advanced program development at Lockheed Martin's commercial civil space unit.

A layout of NASA's Moon to Mars mission. The new commercial partners will compete for the opportunity to ferry those experiments to and from the moon.

Lockheed Martin is planning for a massive lander that could ferry four astronauts from the Lunar Gateway to the moon, while Deep Space Systems is an aerospace engineering company developing the Mars Phoenix lander.

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