The next time NASA reaches the moon it will be on a spaceship built by a private companies – Not NASA
The nine US-based private companies will be responsible for building the spacecraft with which NASA will begin its next lunar exploration.
The Nine Companies are:
- Astrobiotic Technology Inc., Pittsburgh
- Deep Space Systems, Littleton, Colorado
- Draper, Cambridge, Massachusetts
- Firefly Aerospace Inc., Cedar Park, Texas
- Intuitive Machines, Houston
- Lockheed Martin Space, Littleton, Colorado
- Masten Space Systems Inc., Mojave, California
- Moon Express, Cape Canaveral
- Orbit Beyond, Edison, New Jersey
NASA administrator announces on Thursday what will be the companies qualified to apply for the contest. Some of the names on the list have gained the prestige of the aerospace industry over the years, such as Locheed Martin, but the vast majorities are incipient companies such as Astrobiotic and Masten Space Systems.
According to The Washington Post, the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program is one of the priorities of the current administrator of NASA, Jim Bridenstine. When presenting it in May, he assured that it will allow “more missions and science”.
These Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contracts have a combined value of $2.6 Billion over the next ten years.
It is not the first time that NASA ventures into the world of public-private partnership. During the government of George W. Bush allowed certain companies to transport cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). And during the mandate of Barack Obama, he developed the Commercial Crew Program through which private companies transport human crew to the space. However the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) mission will be the first public-private partnership in deep space, according to the Washington Post.
In 2019, the first take-off of these spacecraft could be taking shape. However, despite the fact that NASA intends to send two payloads every year for the next ten years, it has not yet revealed what instruments it hopes to carry to the moon in its first exploration.
Due to the inexperience of the most qualified companies, Bridenstine acknowledged that some of the mission might not achieve a “soft” landing on the lunar surface.
“At the end of the day, the risk is high, but the return will also be high with a very low investment”. He said in a press conference on Thursday.
During the electoral campaign, the president of the United States, Donald Trump, maintained that the lunar landing would be one of the main goals of his administrator. In December 2017, he signed a document that regulates NASA’s public-private partnership in order to send a long-termed mission to Mars. However, according to the Washington Post, critics of the initiative understand that NASA is not prepared for this type of task. The last rocket prepared by the agency exceeded the original budget and delivery time.
Can Bridenstine achieve this objective? A hierarchy understands that yes, even though no American spacecraft has trodden the moon since the last Apollo mission, in1972. In the lunar race, there are several contestants: China, India, and Israel are only the most solid.
On the other hand, the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) came amid security checks that NASA made to its two private partners SpaceX and Boeing, which are not called.
Both companies are hired to take astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) but have not yet managed to develop the spacecraft they promised. SpaceX, which is owned by Elon Musk, was put to the test after a podcast came to the light in which businessman admits to smoking marijuana and drinking whiskey.