In an announcement Thursday, the space agency named the organizations that are now eligible to bid on delivering science and technology payloads to the lunar surface.
The nine United States companies will compete for a percentage of Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contracts of almost $2.6 billion (€2.2 billion) over the next 10 years.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on Thursday announced nine U.S. companies including Lockheed Martin Corp. that are going to compete for funding NASA's long-term moon program. They can do this through the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contract.
Although Nasa initially declined to confirm media reports that the review was prompted by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's appearance on a filmed podcast in which he was smoking a joint, Bridenstine admitted Thursday, during a roundtable with reporters, it "was not helpful". NASA believes the first missions could head for the moon as soon as next year, and it already has some payloads in mind.
The partnering companies were announced during a press conference held at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., which was streamed live on NASA TV. This includes encouraging private investment where possible and shifting sights to lunar science, including the Gateway Lunar Orbital Platform and a human return to the Moon in the short term.
The CLPS contracts are indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts and have a combined maximum value of $2.6 billion over the next 10 years.
Using commercial services, NASA will be able to "accelerate a robotic return to the moon, with upcoming missions targeted for two to three years earlier than previously planned". The new space station would orbit the moon. The mission aims to prove SLS is safe and reliable by sending an uncrewed Orion spacecraft around the moon and back to Earth.
The Space Policy Directive was born from the recommendations provided during the first meeting of the new National Space Council, a group under the US Department of Commerce's Office of Space Commerce.
If SpaceX's or Blue Origin's rockets come online, one NASA executive said the agency would "eventually retire" SLS. According to Nikolai Sevastyanov, the leader of Russia's TsNIIMash federal rocket and spaceсraft development corporation, the first stage would involve the deployment of a module to orbit the Moon. 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. NASA might also reinstate instruments from the canceled Resource Prospector lunar mining mission.
NASA has also awarded contracts to Boeing and SpaceX to fly astronauts to the International Space Station in the next year. The contest, but Astrobotic continued developing a small lunar lander called Peregrine.