Published: Sun, December 02, 2018
Sci-tech | By Spencer Schmidt

Moon Express Announces Strategic Partners for Commercial Lunar Payload Services

Moon Express Announces Strategic Partners for Commercial Lunar Payload Services

The companies will bid on contracts to deliver science and technology payloads to enable humans to travel back to the moon, and eventually on to Mars.

The CLPS programme, which is operated by Nasa's science mission directorate, is meant to buy end-to-end payload services between Earth and the lunar surface using fixed priced contracts.

While Bridenstine was gung-ho about utilising commercial outfits to get NASA's science to the moon, he was less confident about his private partners getting NASA's astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) any time soon.

NASA hopes that others will use these services as space travel becomes an endeavour accessible to private corporations.

The agency mulled a review of SpaceX and Boeing before Musk's appearance on "The Joe Rogan Experience", according to the NASA head.

NASA expects the selected contractors to begin flying to the moon as early as next year.

The CLPS contracts are indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts and have a combined maximum value of $2.6 billion over the next 10 years. Draper is another long-time space contractor in the CLPS program.

America's next moon landing will be made by private companies - possibly one from Colorado - not NASA. Go back to the moon, we're going to Mars, we're going further than the solar system. SpaceX and Boeing are planning to start transporting astronauts to the space station sometime next year.

The ultimate objective is to have humans orbiting the moon by 2023 and then land a couple of years later, though all manned expeditions will be preceded with robotic lander missions.

Soon after the mandate was presented, NASA submitted a plan to Congress called the National Space Exploration Campaign, echoing Trump's remarks.

"Today's announcement marks tangible progress in America's return to the moon's surface to stay".

Much like NASA's Commercial Resupply Services and Commercial Crew Program, NASA wouldn't own these vehicles, it would purchase their services from the firms that produced them. "We're going at high speed", he said.

The outline published by NASA to fulfill the Space Policy Directive, the "Exploration Campaign", focuses on three core domains for development: low Earth orbit, lunar orbit and surface, and Mars, with the option of other deep space objectives being integrated.

The agency hopes that this new program will help bring the US back to the surface of the moon. The teaming with veteran USA commercial space companies provides broad and deep technical capabilities and experience in spacecraft development, thermal engineering, flight software and payload management that compliments Moon Express and its plans to offer regular commercial robotic expeditions to the Moon beginning in 2020.

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