NASA Announces New Moon Partnerships with U.S. Companies

NASA looks to outsource Moon delivery services
NASA plans to return to the moon with the help of private companies

02 December, 2018

Astrobotic, Moon Express, Masten Space Systems, Deep Space Systems, Draper, Firefly Aerospace, Intuitive Machines, and Orbit Beyond have all been picked to provide services to NASA on future lunar missions.

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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.

NASA plans to award about $2.6 billion over the course of 10 years that the companies can compete for.

Later, reusable landers that go back and forth to the surface of the moon will be used to ensure continuous human presence there which they aim to achieve within the next decade. NASA said that additional companies could be included at a later date.

Soon after the mandate was presented, NASA submitted a plan to Congress called the National Space Exploration Campaign, echoing Trump's remarks. In 2017, Moon Express introduced its MX family of modular, scalable robotic exploration vehicles created to collapse the cost of access to the Moon and other deep space destinations.

While there isn't much in NASA's plans beyond its current lunar gateway, the agency did say the missions would inform the development of technology to return humans to the lunar surface and on to Mars.

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"We are excited to leverage our interplanetary lander designs and experience to help NASA build a new economy on and around the Moon, and beyond", Lisa Callahan, a Lockheed Martin vice president, said in a statement.

The earliest these companies could fly their wares with NASA is 2019.

NASA's objective is encouraging competition among the private companies in order to set up an orbiting outpost near the moon as fast as possible. It marks an initial step in returning American astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972, for long-term exploration and use.

By 2023, the first rocket would carry astronauts around the Moon, in an even more distant orbit than the Apollo missions.

Mr Musk's SpaceX is one of two firms contracted to build a shuttle that will fly U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station from American territory - something that was ended in 2011.

He added that he was the one who called for the safety review, announced November 20, of the two companies tasked with building the spacecraft that will enable Americans once again to send people to space - a capacity the United States lost in 2011 with the retirement of the space shuttle program.

"We're returning to the Moon, preparing to go beyond to Mars".

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