NASA's unmanned Martian quake sensor, InSight, has landed at a slight angle on the Red Planet, and experts are hopeful the spacecraft will work as planned, the U.S. space agency said Friday. "This request for Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) will further expand efforts to support development and partnership opportunities on the lunar surface". "NASA becomes one customer of many that spread the cost and lower the risk more than it would be [with just NASA]".
The Commercial Crew Program, developed under President Barack Obama, will pay companies to transport human crews. The program will spend $2.6 billion over the next 10 years among various aerospace companies. Its multi-year plan looks to deliver several small payloads of instruments and rovers to the surface of the Moon with manned missions planned for later.
Astrobiotic Technology Inc., Pittsburgh; Draper, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Firefly Aerospace Inc., Cedar Park, Texas; Intuitive Machines, Houston; Masten Space Systems Inc., Mojave, California; Moon Express, Cape Canaveral, Florida; and Orbit Beyond, Edison, New Jersey. The contracts that the companies can bid on include launching and landing services and payload delivery systems. The company now subcontracts with other major contractors in the field of space exploration such as Lockheed Martin and NASA. Some of these have already made successful voyages to the Moon and Mars. "On our last 10 interplanetary missions for NASA, we delivered on or ahead of schedule, and on budget". "We want to do it far more with commercial and global partners than we can do on our own".
Lockheed Martin's McCandless Lunar Lander.
"There isn't a direct connection to Orion, but this offering does pull from our planetary heritage overall". The company previously competed and succeeded through two funding levels in the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge X Prize in 2009.
Lockheed Martin's lander was named in honor of NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless II who flew on STS-41B and STS-31. He passed away on December 21, 2017 at the age of 80. Those involved with CLPS underlined the spirit of cooperation required for complex programs such as this one to be successful.
The final stage of a three-stage moon exploration program is scheduled to begin after 2035 with construction of a fully habitable lunar base that will be completed by 2040. We've proven this with the ISS with commercial resupply and, soon, commercial crew.
"Today's announcement marks tangible progress in America's return to the Moon's surface to stay", said Bridenstine.
"I will tell you that was not helpful, and that did not inspire confidence, and the leaders of these organizations need to take that as an example of what to do when you lead an organization that's going to launch American astronauts", said Bridenstine.