Japanese startup among firms chosen for NASA's moon delivery bid
07 December, 2018, 06:38 | Author: Tara Reeves
"We're going at high speed", said Thomas Zurbuchen, head of NASA's science mission directorate, which will lead the effort over the 10 years.
The relatively small and low-priced payloads delivered via the CLPS program would be followed by more traditional medium- and large-class missions, Bridenstine said, including an eventual crewed mission to the Moon.
The commercial partners announced today will develop their own spacecrafts to get NASA's payloads, and those of other customers, into space. NASA administrator, Jim Bridenstine, announced that nine private-sector aerospace companies, including Lockheed Martin, will develop the spacecraft and technology to get the us back to the moon.
Prior to the announcement, Bridenstine spoke on The Hill TV's "Rising" program, emphasizing the goal of the Space Policy Directive's mission to build the capabilities of not only returning to the Moon, but stay as a sustained presence.
The exploration of the Moon will follow next, with the ultimate goal, a trip to Mars and back, to end the current stage of human expansion to space. NASA will be one of multiple customers using these lunar services.
Speaking later to AFP, Bridenstine said the review shows how seriously NASA takes the safety of its astronauts. The innovation of Americas aerospace companies, wedded with our big goals in science and human exploration, are going to help us achieve unbelievable thingsonthe Moon and feed forward to Mars.
"On the Gateway, America and its partners will prepare to transit deep space, testing new technologies and systems as we build the infrastructure to support missions to the surface of the Moon and prepare for the epochal mission to Mars", the agency said.
The good news for the companies concerned is that they are now eligible to bid for "indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity" contracts with a combined maximum value of $2.6bn during the next 10 years.
NASA is moving forward with plans to put the USA back in the business of moon visits.
Essentially, NASA's new Moon strategy will involve using private companies to build the stuff they send their experiments to the Moon on. The first such flight could come as early as next year. These missions pave the way for a human return to the moon, as well as enable human exploration of Mars and beyond. Robotic exploration of Mars has been underway for years, with the InSight mission landing on the surface this week and another rover landing planned for 2020.
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.
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.
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