Science

US Companies Are Going to the Moon! Here Are NASA's New Partners

US Companies Are Going to the Moon! Here Are NASA's New Partners”

But under this approach, NASA won't be alone in hiring these companies - the agency hopes to spur development that the commercial sector can also utilize.

"We believe that there is a lot of incredible science that we can do on the surface of the Moon", Bridenstine said.

In the press release announcing the winning companies, NASA said the companies are eligible for up to $2.6 billion in awards over the next ten years.

Lockheed Martin, has extensive experience in building robotic landers already, including InSight, which landed on Mars earlier this week, though they are much larger than what is planned for CLPS.

But the newly announced contracts for the Commercial Lunar Payload Services Program came with a ceremony and extra fanfare given the newly energized push to return to the moon with help from private companies under the Trump administration.

Still, Earth's only natural satellite is being explored by other nations; China's Chang'e 4 and 5 missions, which would deliver a rover to the Moon, and return rock samples from the surface, is slated to launch next year.

"The space agency has been working on plans to build a ": "a space station to be built sometime in the 2020s.

NASA also told TheBlaze that competition between outside companies like this "typically leads to more innovative and less costly solutions for the design of spacecraft".

When asked what information companies had to provide in order to participate in the program and how NASA chose the winners, Zurbuchen did not go into specifics. Working with US companies is the next step to achieving long-term scientific study and human exploration of the Moon and Mars.

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

NASA says the commercial lunar payloads could fly on launch vehicles chosen by one or more of the new contractors as soon as 2019. The first flight could be next year. The company is now developing a "Peregrine Lander" aimed at orbital and surface operations for any lunar destination.

Russian national space agency Roscomos first envisioned the three-stage plan in 2014.

NASA has been working to encourage private interest in the moon as a way to reduce the agency's own costs as it looks to return to human exploration, first at the moon and then at Mars.

NASA unveiled a set of new "Moon partnerships" with nine US companies at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

One of the nine companies will be tasked with delivering science and technology payloads to the surface of the Moon for NASA.

Anatoly Petrukovich of the Russian Academy of Sciences said: "A trip to Mars with the current state of space travel technology is too complicated".



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