NASA Announces New Moon Partnerships with U.S. Companies


Earlier this year, NASA awarded Astrobotic a $10 million grant to create a precision landing system for their spacecraft, Peregrine.

If SpaceX's or Blue Origin's rockets come online, one NASA executive said the agency would "eventually retire" SLS.

Hot on the heels of successfully landing a spacecraft on Mars on November 26, NASA officials explained it will partner with nine private companies who "will compete to deliver experiments to the lunar surface", the Associated Press reported Thursday. While Bridenstine has confidence that these companies can succeed, "it's not a guarantee".

The commercial partners announced today will develop their own spacecrafts to get NASA's payloads, and those of other customers, into space.

Musk recently said SpaceX will launch a Japanese billionaire on a flight around the moon in 2023. "There is a lot of awesome science we can do on the surface of the moon that we can't do anywhere else".

While there isn't much in NASA's plans beyond its current lunar gateway, the agency did say the missions would inform the development of technology to return humans to the lunar surface and on to Mars.

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"It's a big experiment", Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen said. "That foil collected material from the sun and provided the best measurements of the sun we had for the next 25 years".

"When we go back, we want to build a sustainable infrastructure to support humans up there, as well as for us to become sort of an ecosystem [up there] of gather science", Tomek said.

"The goal of the lunar programs is to ensure national interests at the new space turn".

The partnering companies were announced during a press conference held at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., which was streamed live on NASA TV.

Now Bridenstine has commented publicly on the incident for the first time.

"We want to establish and open architecture capability-of data, communications, avionics, docking-to go from the Earth to the moon over and over again so any individual who can attract the capital, or company, could access it", said Bridenstine.

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The agency is also conducting a review of SpaceX and Boeing to assess the cultures of the government contractors.

The flag of the United States of America remains the only territorial banner on the Moon's surface.

The Trump administration sees the moon as an opportunity to test technologies as well as new strategies that could reduce the price tag for trips to space, and jump-start new commercial companies.

Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of when USA astronaut Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon. Some of the elements are now under construction on Earth.

While some of the companies are relatively new, others, like Draper, have been involved with the US space program for decades. Bridenstine has also continued talking about Mars as an eventual destination.

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