NASA chooses private companies for future moon landings

Posted December 02, 2018

NASA's CLPS programme will offer contracts worth a combined value of about $2.6 billion over the next 10 years.

This "Moon to Mars" program includes working with global and commercial partners to send humans back to the moon as well as landing astronauts on Mars for the first time. The contracts that the companies can bid on include launching and landing services and payload delivery systems.

Ultimately, these upcoming missions will help NASA gather data in order to prepare to send a lander with a person in it to the Martian surface.

The reviews are needed to "ensure the companies are meeting NASA's requirements for workplace safety, including the adherence to a drug-free environment", Bridenstine said, noting the scrutiny is "necessary and appropriate" for human space exploration, The Atlantic reported. NASA believes the first missions could head for the moon as soon as next year, and it already has some payloads in mind.

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NASA administrators may have listened to Frank Sinatra's iconic tune, "Fly Me to the Moon", too many times in recent months, as the space agency announced it is returning to the natural satellite.

The Trump administration sees the moon as an opportunity to test technologies as well as new strategies that could reduce the price tag for trips to space, and jump-start new commercial companies.

"The innovation of America's aerospace companies, wedded with our big goals in science and human exploration, are going to help us achieve awesome things on the Moon and feed forward to Mars", NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement. "If you want to learn the age of the solar system, you take samples from the moon and analyze them".

Right now we're building a space station, we call it 'Gateway, ' that's going to be in orbit around the moon - think of it as a reusable command module where we can have human presence in orbit around the moon. "The innovation of America's aerospace companies, wedded with our big goals in science and human exploration, are going to help us achieve awesome things on the Moon and feed forward to Mars", Bridenstine said. NASA has long contracted with major USA aerospace companies to help develop and build spacecraft, but in recent years, Alan Boyle at Geekwire says, the business model has shifted in a big way. Its team is comprised of space tech and support services for the Nasa programme.

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The announcement comes just three days after NASA landed its InSight spacecraft on Mars.

If more hiccups come with the program, NASA may be watching SpaceX beat the agency to the moon with a crewed mission.

Bridenstine confirmed he ordered safety reviews of SpaceX and Boeing, another NASA contractor, after Musk smoked on the podcast, but he said that was always the plan.

By 2023, the first rocket would carry astronauts around the Moon, in an even more distant orbit than the Apollo missions. Now, within hours after NASA announced their plans to take humans to the moon, Russian Federation has revealed that they intend to build a lunar base by 2040.

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