NASA selects nine US companies to vie for moon program funding

Christopher Davidson
December 7, 2018

In a new step forward, NASA announced Thursday that nine USA companies are eligible to bid on $2.6 billion worth of contracts over the next 10 years to deliver services to the moon.

"Today's announcement marks tangible progress in America's return to the Moon's surface to stay", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in a statement published on November 29. "We're gonna buy the service", he cheered.

That kind of public and private partnership is the future, according to NASA.

Astrobotic Technology: A Pittsburgh-based company focused on flying hardware systems into space for companies, governments, and universities.

Scientist-Astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt is photographed working beside a huge boulder at Station 6 during the third Apollo 17 extravehicular activity at the Taurus-Littrow lunar landing site, December 13, 1972.

The next race to the moon will be a multibillion-dollar competition among private companies - including Cambridge-based Draper. Their Moon work will focus on providing payload services. The contracts that the companies can bid on include launching and landing services and payload delivery systems. Their priority is providing low-cost rocket access to low Earth orbit (LEO).

Near the other end of the corporate spectrum is Orbit Beyond, a small company with plans to develop a series of lunar landers.

Lockheed Martin: An industry giant with a long, established history of involvement with NASA and human spaceflight.

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NASANASA plans to return to the moon with American companies.

Lockheed Martin, by far the largest company selected for CLPS, said it will develop what it called the McCandless Lunar Lander, named after the late astronaut Bruce McCandless. The funding was part of $44 million' worth of awards NASA gave out to companies developing for space exploration.

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

NASA is all set to take one move ahead to launch humans for the first time from the United States in 8/ years on January 7.

Under Space Policy Directive-1, the agency will lead an innovative and sustainable exploration of the Moon together with commercial and worldwide partners.

NASA will also re-evaluate the private sector landscape periodically for emerging players that may be able to offer lunar delivery capabilities, and which may offer CLPS contacts to more companies through on-ramping process. These missions pave the way for a human return to the moon, as well as enable human exploration of Mars and beyond. There was President Trump's Space Policy Directive One for one, and the involvement of both commercial and worldwide partners. "What we're going for here is speed". The objective is to help overall comprehension of the challenges involved in making significant progress in space exploration and propose viable policy solutions.

The announcement on future moon flights came just three days after NASA successfully landed its InSight spacecraft on Mars.

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