NASA Chooses Private Companies for Future Moon Landings

NASA/Project Apollo Archive
NASA/Project Apollo Archive
NASA/Project Apollo Archive

Private firms – instead of NASA — will lead the race back to the moon, with launch target dates set for 2019 – the fiftieth anniversary of the first manned moon landing.

Hot on the heels of with success landing a spacecraft on Mars on November. 26, NASA officers explained it’ll partner with 9 private companies who “will compete to deliver experiments to the lunar surface,” the Associated Press reported Thursday.

The so-called commercial lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contracts have a combined price of $2.6 billion over the next ten years, NASA officers same in their public announcement in Washington, D.C. The 9 companies are eligible to compete for those contracts, space News reported .

Jim Bridenstine, NASA administrator, said NASA can purchase the service and let private industry work out the details on going to the moon.

Characterizing the U.S. race to the moon “a fledgling industry,” he said NASA can rely heavily on the private companies’ analysis and will be affordable.

“These aren’t expensive missions,” Bridenstine told reporters before the announcement. “This is like a venture capital quite effort where at the end of the day, the chance is high but the come back is also terribly high for a low investment.”

Two benefits of the partnerships include getting U.S. astronauts back to the moon more quickly and keeping them safer once they arrive.

Among the analysis projects the companies are performing on include radiation monitors, laser reflectors for gravity and measuring devices, said moon project leader Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA science mission head. Seemingly, the analysis is already in progress.

“We’re going at high speed,” said Zurbuchen.

The 9 companies range from startups to aerospace giants, reported area News, that added that while they’re eligible for future contracts to deliver payloads to the surface of the moon.

The companies partnering with NASA are:

Astrobiotic Technology INC. of Pittsburgh; deep space Systems of Littleton, Colorado; draper of Cambridge, Massachusetts; Firefly aerospace opposition. of Cedar Park, Texas; Intuitive Machines of Houston; Lockheed Martin of Littleton; Masten area Systems INC. of Mojave, California; Moon express of Cape Canaveral, Florida and Orbit beyond of Edison, New Jersey.

Lockheed Martin was responsible for the InSight lander, that landed on Mars earlier this week. Lockheed Martin is building the McCandless lunar Lander, modeled once InSight, that the private company engineered for NASA.

The McCandless lunar Lander is known as after the late astronaut and former Lockheed Martin employee Bruce McCandless. In 1984, he performed the first free-flying spacewalk while not a lifeline to the orbiting shuttle, employing a company-built jetpack. The picture of McCandless floating by himself in the blackness of space, with the blue Earth in the background, is one of NASA’s most iconic.

According to AP, the new partnerships area unit loosely modeled after NASA’s successful commercial shipment deliveries to the International orbiter. SpaceX and Northrop Grumman, erst Orbital ATK, have engineered space station shipments since 2012. SpaceX plans to start transporting astronauts to the orbiting lab next year, as will Boeing.

Bridenstine said NASA needs the companies to succeed, however “is certain some of the efforts can fail,” AP reported .

Specifically, Zurbuchen said expectations shouldn’t exceed fifty percent. The AP didn’t elaborate.

Within the partnerships, NASA are one of many customers who can use lunar services like rocket rides, Bridenstine said.

NASA’s objective is encouraging competition among the private companies in order to line up an orbiting outpost close to the moon as quick as possible.

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