NASA looks to outsource Moon delivery services

NASA looks to outsource Moon delivery services

NASA looks to outsource Moon delivery services

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced Thursday that Draper and eight other United States companies, ranging from tiny startups to defense giant Lockheed Martin, will compete for $2.6 billion in NASA contracts. Under Space Policy Directive-1, the agency will lead an innovative and sustainable exploration of the Moon together with commercial and worldwide partners. The company now subcontracts with other major contractors in the field of space exploration such as Lockheed Martin and NASA. NASA believes missions could begin as early as next year. The number of possible missions and the costs of particular contracts haven't been disclosed, however.

"The Commercial Lunar Payload Services contracts are indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts with a combined maximum contract value of $2.6 billion during the next 10 years", said a NASA statement.

For now, each company will receive a small, unspecified amount of funding to develop a payload users' guide. What that tells us is, science and human exploration go together.

Payloads, or the instruments and pieces of technology, could fly as early as 2019. NASA had "never done anything that fast" before, Zurbuchen said.

It's not yet clear what kind of instruments NASA hopes to send, though the first call for proposals should come out in the coming weeks or months.

NASA is providing no development money for any of the CLPS companies, who will have to raise the funding needed for their landers from other sources. An "on-ramping" provision will allow the agency to select other companies to join over the course of the CLPS program.

"This is a venture capital kind of effort", he told reporters Thursday.

Davenport talked to Bridenstine, who said he supported the review but did not mention who ordered it. Our portfolio is larger, so we can take more risks and get it done fast.

The companies themselves made only a cameo appearance at the event, briefly appearing on stage but making no remarks. The company is now developing a "Peregrine Lander" aimed at orbital and surface operations for any lunar destination.

Of the group, the only well-known name is aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, which has a long track record of success with NASA and built the InSight lander that touched down Monday on Mars.

"When I was a little kid, there were humans on the surface of the moon, and right after they landed, they put up a science experiment: aluminum foil", Zurbuchen said.

Astrobotic Technology is a Pittsburgh-based company.

Headquartered in Texas, U.S. "The design is really mature now", he said.

A Cambridge-based nonprofit that created the navigation system for Apollo is competing with private companies across the country to be the next American entity to land on the moon.

"We are excited to partner with these fantastic companies at the dawn of a new era of lunar and solar system exploration", stated Moon Express founder & CEO, Bob Richards.

If Elon Musk wants to blast Americans up into space, he's going to have to tone down his act.

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