The next time NASA goes to the moon, its equipment and experiments will be carried by a spacecraft provided by one of the nine commercial companies that are now part of its new commercial lunar payload service program (CLPS ). And they will now be able to bid on missions to deliver payloads to the moon. Lockheed Martin, a recognizable name in this space, is among those eligible for missions, but other companies are less well known. They include Astrobotic Technology, Deep Space Systems, Draper, Firefly Aerospace, Intuitive Machines, Masten Space Systems, Moon Express and Orbit Beyond.
Bridenstine said that the goal is to have multiple vendors able to compete on costs and innovation. "We are doing something that has never been done before," he said at the announcement today. NASA will consider factors such as technical feasibility, price and timing when evaluating offers, and SPDP contracts have a combined maximum value of $ 2.6 billion over 10 years.
The United States is not the only country to target the moon. China, Japan and Israel all have lunar missions in the works.
NASA announced that lunar missions could take place next year and launched a call for lunar study proposals in October. "These first missions will provide important technological demonstrations that will inform the development of future landing gear and other exploration systems needed to return man to the lunar surface, and help to prepare the agency." to send astronauts explore Mars, "the agency said. NASA may also offer other contracts with the CLPS program in the future.
"Today's announcement marks a tangible progress in America's return on the surface of the moon to stay," said Bridenstine. "The innovation of American aerospace companies, coupled with our major goals in science and human exploration, will help us achieve incredible things on the moon and feed Mars."