Published: Fri, December 07, 2018
Science | By Michele Flores

Ispace to bid on Nasa lunar payload contracts

Ispace to bid on Nasa lunar payload contracts

What that tells us is, science and human exploration go together. NASA expects to be only one of many customers that will use the commercial landing services - from the Earth to the Moon - created by the program.

The enlisted companies - all American companies, was released by NASA on Friday.

The announcement on future moon flights came just three days after NASA successfully landed its InSight spacecraft on Mars. The Draper team was awarded an Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract vehicle, today to support NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative. This image of the moon was taken above Newfoundland from the International Space Station.

The companies selected range from a major aerospace corporation, Lockheed Martin, to little-known startups, and from companies that were longtime competitors in the now-expired Google Lunar X Prize for commercial lunar landers to those that had not previously publicly expressed plans for such landers. NASA believes the first missions could head for the moon as soon as next year, and it already has some payloads in mind.

"The latest innovation and technological advancements of American aerospace companies, wedded with our big goals in science and human exploration, are going to help us achieve incredible things on the Moon and feed forward to Mars".

Under Space Policy Directive-1, the agency will lead an innovative and sustainable exploration of the Moon together with commercial and global partners. NASA hopes the first of these small landers will be launched in 2019 or 2020 and continue on a two-per-year basis.

Draper's lunar lander
Draper's lunar lander

In response, NASA submitted a plan to Congress: the National Space Exploration Campaign, which "calls for human and robotic exploration missions to expand the frontiers of human experience and scientific discovery of the natural phenomena of Earth, other worlds and the cosmos", the agency said. These contracts will be geared to filling the needs of NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services Program over the next ten years of its development.

NASA unveiled a set of new "Moon partnerships" with nine US companies at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

Most of the companies involved have never flown a spacecraft of this complexity and scale, and Bridenstine acknowledged that some of the CLPS missions will likely fail to achieve a "soft" landing on the lunar surface.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Thursday that nine American companies will compete to carry experiments to the surface of the moon.

NASA has been working to encourage private interest in the moon as a way to reduce the agency's own costs as it looks to return to human exploration, first at the moon and then at Mars. "Our investment is low because we have other people who are investing", said Bridenstine.

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