NASA officials said the research will help get astronauts back to the moon more quickly and keep them safer once they're there.
During a presentation held on Thursday, Nov. 29 at the agency's headquarters located in Washington D.C., NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine unveiled the Commercial Lunar Payload Services Program (CLPS).
"The U.S. return to the moon, and we will make it sooner than you think!" - the report says.NASA will be one of multiple customers using these lunar services.
NASA also announced that the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program will be driven by the agency's Science Mission Directorate. "It is about a colony on the surface of the moon".
Maston Space Systems: A Mojave-based company focused on reusable rocket technology and reliable planetary landers for the Earth, Moon, Mars, and beyond. "Growing from the NASA Centennial Lander Challenge through working with NASA CATALYST (Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown) and now CLPS is very exciting!"
The list included several relatively new companies, like Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic and California-based Masten Space Systems, as well as longtime government contractors like Lockheed Martin and Draper. Some of these have already made successful voyages to the Moon and Mars.
Aside from Lockheed Martin, most of the aerospace firms are not too well known. Robotic CLPS payload deliveries on Peregrine will be a vital bridge to a future human return to the Moon, and an important capability in NASA's Moon to Mars exploration campaign. "We want multiple providers that are competing on cost and innovation".
Lockheed Martin's lander concept has been dubbed the McCandless Lunar Lander. It is still unknown which company will develop the missiles to fly to the moon.
"There isn't a direct connection to Orion, but this offering does pull from our planetary heritage overall".
Astrobotic Technology has built a lander called Peregrine, and have obtained backing from NASA to create a standalone system to land on the moon. The Google Lunar X Prize, started in 2007, announced a $20 million award for the first privately funded spacecraft to land on the moon. He passed away on December 21, 2017 at the age of 80.
In the years since, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has landed rovers on Mars, studied Saturn and its moons, collected data on Pluto, discovered thousands of possible exoplanets, and allowed astronauts to conduct experiments in low-Earth orbit. The Verge notes that both had expressed interest in the program, but were not selected. They'll also hopefully be able to explore more of the moon's surface through these partnerships, Bridenstine added. The space agency will hire one of these nine companies to build the spacecraft that will carry the agency's equipment and experiments to the moon.
NASA expects these lunar payloads could lift off as early as 2019. In a news release, NASA said that "w$3 orking with USA companies is the next step to achieving long-term scientific study and human exploration of the Moon and Mars".
Tourists take pictures of a NASA sign at the Kennedy Space Center visitors complex in Cape Canaveral, Florida April 14, 2010.