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NASA chooses private companies for future moon landings
01 December 2018, 01:07 | Brenda Erickson
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'We'll draw on the interests and capabilities of USA industry and worldwide partners as American innovation leads astronauts back to the Moon and to destinations farther into the solar system, including Mars, ' said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine when the project was first announced in May.
Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine announced on Thursday that nine U.S. companies will compete in delivering experiments to the lunar surface.
The selected companies will compete on "cost and innovation", NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said at the press conference today.
The initiative is part of Space Policy Directive 1, a year-old change in national space policy calling for a US -led coalition of commercial and global partners enabling human expansion across the solar system by first returning humans to the moon, which offers a closer and, therefore, lower-risk proving ground to Mars.
The announcement comes just three days after NASA landed its InSight spacecraft on Mars. The contracts that the companies can bid on include launching and landing services and payload delivery systems. Under this architecture, NASA would become one "among many" customers. NASA might also reinstate instruments from the canceled Resource Prospector lunar mining mission. Flights could begin as soon as next year, and NASA officials are aiming for two a year, or about 20 in all. Astrobotic has steadily developed our lunar delivery service with a methodical, technically sound lander program validated by world-class company partners like ULA, Dynetics, and Airbus DS.
Local media are invited to a roundtable discussion at 11 a.m. EST on November 30 at NASA's Langley Research Center to discuss how the center is working with commercial partners to support NASA's exploration of the Moon and Mars.
Speaking later to AFP, Bridenstine said the review shows how seriously NASA takes the safety of its astronauts.
One of the nine companies will be tasked with delivering science and technology payloads to the surface of the Moon for NASA.
Blue Origin hasn't been as specific, but Bezos has said the company is working on a large rocket called New Armstrong, named for the first man to set foot on the moon. Rather, they likened the effort to high-risk, high-reward bets by venture capital investors.
Elon Musk will have to lay off the booze and pot if he wants to continue doing work for NASA, the agency's chief warned this week, while laying into the SpaceX founder for his recent erratic behavior.
'We're building the next chapter of American exploration, returning to the moon - to stay, ' the space agency announced.
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