NASA Announces New Partnerships for Commercial Lunar Payload Delivery Services

Federico Mansilla
Diciembre 7, 2018

Altogether, these Commercial Lunar Payload Services contracts have a combined value of $2.6 billion over the next 10 years.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine described the announcement as "tangible progress in America's return to the Moon's surface to stay".

According to head NASA, the station will be used as a reusable manned module where people will be in orbit of the moon.

The McCandless Lunar Lander is named after the late astronaut and former Lockheed Martin employee Bruce McCandless, who in 1984 performed the first free-flying spacewalk without a lifeline to the orbiting shuttle, using a jetpack built by the company.

Rather than relying on its engineers to design and build the spacecraft, the space agency is publishing the capabilities it needs and requesting proposals from the enlisted companies to provide those services.

Moon Express and Astrobotic were competitors in the Google Lunar X-Prize (GLXP) program that ended without anyone winning the prize. Their Moon work will focus on providing payload services.

The list included several relatively new companies, like Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic and California-based Masten Space Systems, as well as longtime government contractors like Lockheed Martin and Draper. Their priority is providing low-cost rocket access to low Earth orbit (LEO).

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Intuitive Machines, based in the state of Texas, specializes in autonomous systems.

India and Israel also plan to launch lunar landers next year.

The US President signed the Space Policy Directive in December previous year, officially announcing a return to the lunar surface as the near-term goal of NASA's human space programme. But it is also expected to serve as a launching point for missions to other parts of the solar system, including the planet Mars.

As NASA is already making plans to come up with a lunar orbiter in early-2020s and bring humans back to the Moon later in the 2020s, Russian Federation could not stay passive to what shapes up to be a modern space race, more or less led by private space companies.

Draper is a not-for-profit which was involved with the Apollo Moon landings.

NASA wants to purchase services rather than develop and launch its own spacecraft as part of the human exploration plan to explore and utilize the Moon.

Bridenstine pointed out that he told Vice President Pence at the June 2018 National Space Council meeting that NASA wants to "take shots on goal" to implement Space Policy Directive-1 (SPD-1) and the Space Council embraced the plan. This image of the moon was taken above Newfoundland from the International Space Station. During Council meetings, U.S. government officials from civilian and military space along with space industry leaders such as SpaceX and Boeing, as well as other significant public and private institutions, hold discussions with high ranking members of the USA government, the Vice President being the Chairman.

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