NASA looks to outsource Moon delivery services

NASA looks to outsource Moon delivery services

"We're going at high speed", said Thomas Zurbuchen, head of NASA's science mission directorate, which will lead the effort.

The enlisted companies - all American companies, was released by NASA on Friday.

The lander is based on designs for Martian landers the company produced for NASA, including the InSight lander that touched down on Mars Nov. 26.

A company with a research and development office in Ukraine is among a group of nine firms USA space agency NASA said on November 29 can take part in tenders to help send missions to the Moon, including manned missions.

"We are announcing new moon partnerships with American companies", Jim Bridenstine, NASA's administrator, on Tuesday. There was President Trump's Space Policy Directive One for one, and the involvement of both commercial and worldwide partners. NASA will be one of multiple customers using these lunar services.

The first stage will include technology testing through 2025, and the second will see the first manned flights to the moon between 2025 and 2035.

NASA had "never done anything that fast" before, Zurbuchen said. "The innovation of America's aerospace companies, wedded with our big goals in science and human exploration, are going to help us achieve incredible things on the Moon and feed forward to Mars", Bridenstine said.

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This announcement and its press conference demonstrate the continuing shift in NASA's direction, driven by Space Policy Directive 1.

These companies will be able to bid on delivering science and technology payloads for NASA, including payload integration and operations, launching from Earth and landing on the surface of the Moon.

Lockheed Martin is planning for a massive lander that could ferry four astronauts from the Lunar Gateway to the moon, while Deep Space Systems is an aerospace engineering company developing the Mars Phoenix lander.

The companies, some which will develop small launch vehicles and robotic rovers over the next 10 years, will vie for a chunk of the $2.6 billion under the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Commercial Lunar Payload Services program. NASA hopes the first of these small landers will be launched in 2019 or 2020 and continue on a two-per-year basis.

Bridenstine recently said he wants to have humans on Mars by the mid-2030s.

In 2017, President Donald Trump announced the United States would once again send people to the lunar surface, as a step on the path to shipping people to Mars by the 2030s.

The agency now partners with the private sector for other missions, including human transport to the International Space Station (ISS) wherein SpaceX and Boeing are developing capsules for that goal, and the Directive expands that to include deep space missions.

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