NASA has selected nine companies that will be allowed to compete for a share of up to $2.6 billion over the next 10 years to build and launch instruments, experiments and small robotic payloads to the moon.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine announced nine United States companies would compete in delivering experiments to the lunar surface. CLPS is a multi-award contract worth $2.6 billion over the course of its 10 year performance period. The first missions under CLPS could take place in 2019, NASA said in its announcement, although many industry sources expect 2020 to be a more reasonable date for a first mission under the program.
"The relatively small and low-cost payloads delivered via the CLPS program would be followed by more traditional medium- and large-class missions", said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.
Next year will be the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing. By working in concert with NASA's Gateway, Orion, and Space Launch System, Astrobotic's Peregrine lander will help enable a dynamic public-private future on the Moon. "We will increase our efforts to expand our living sphere into space".
"This is a response to the science community, who has for a long time decided that we needed to do science on the surface of the moon", Bridenstine said. NASA said that additional companies could be included at a later date.
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NASA has invited nine companies to bid on delivery services to the moon as part of its greater Moon to Mars mission.
The announcement comes just three days after NASA landed its InSight spacecraft on Mars.
SpaceIL, an Israeli company and former X Prize contestant, says it will send a robotic lander to the moon's surface with SpaceX's help early next year.
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. Astrobotic has more than 30 prior and ongoing NASA and commercial technology contracts, a commercial partnership with Airbus DS, a corporate sponsorship with DHL, and 12 signed deals for Peregrine's first mission to the Moon.
Deep Space Systems: A Colorado-based company focused on systems engineering for supporting the design, development, integration, testing, and operations of science and exploration spacecraft. President Trump signed a directive past year which ordered the agency to make plans for a lunar return, and today the agency took another step on that journey by announcing a slew of commercial partnerships aimed at getting payloads off the ground and moon-bound.