WASHINGTON – NASA has selected nine companies, ranging from start-ups to aerospace giants, to receive future contracts for the delivery of payloads to the Moon's surface without being guaranteed a business guarantee ,
NASA announced November 29 the selection under the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, where the agency will purchase space for scientific instruments and other payloads on future commercial lunar countries. The winning companies are:
- Astrobotic Technology, Inc .: Pittsburgh
- Deep Space Systems: Littleton, Colorado
- Draper: Cambridge, Massachusetts
- Firefly Aerospace, Inc .: Cedar Park, Texas
- Intuitive Machines , LLC: Houston
- Lockheed Martin Room: Littleton, Colorado
- Masten Space Systems, Inc .: Mojave, California
- Mondexpressum: Cape Canaveral, Florida
- Orbit Beyond: Edison, New Jersey
] The companies selected range from a major aerospace corporation, Lockheed Martin, to lesser-known startups and companies that have long been competitors to the now-expired Google Lunar X award for commercial lunar landing subscribers, to companies that previously did not publicly announce plans had such countries.
"When we go to the Moon, we want to be a customer of many customers in a robust market between the Earth and the Moon," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said during an event at NASA Headquarters. "We want multiple vendors competing in terms of cost and innovation."
NASA's press release, announcing the winners, said they are eligible for awards of up to $ 2.6 billion over the next decade. The agency did not specify the maximum contract amounts for each company. The awards are both indefinite deliveries and unlimited quantity contracts, and it is not unusual for the actual value of such awards to be well below the maximum.
Currently, each company will receive a small, unspecified flow rate a user manual for the payload. NASA later competes with individual orders between companies to fly certain payloads to the moon.
"They become part of the catalog, so to speak," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA Science. "They will compete for tasks that we will launch in the coming weeks and months." The first missions under CLPS could take place in 201
NASA is in the process of identifying payloads that could fly with these payloads. Zurbuchen said the agency has a "set of instruments" that are either ready to fly or ready in the near future, such as a retroreflector, to allow accurate laser removal of the Earth-Moon distance. NASA also issued a call in October for instruments and other technologies that can be flown on commercial land.
NASA does not provide development funds to any of the CLPS companies that need to finance their lenders from other sources. Both Bridenstine and Zurucher acknowledged that some of the winners may not be able to rescue their countries, while new companies could emerge who might be able to take part in the program through future "driveways".
"Think of it as a venture capital, our investments are low because we have other people who invest," said Bridenstine. "But we have more vendors, in other words, the portfolio is bigger, so we
The companies themselves were only seen as cameo appearances at the event and performed briefly on stage, but did not comment, after which some of the companies discussed details of their planned lander systems.
Lockheed Martin, by far the largest company selected for CLPS, said it would develop the so-called McCandless Lunar Lander, named after the deceased astronaut Bruce McCandless, based on designs for Marslanders the company produced for NASA, including of the InSight lander, which landed on Mars on November 26.
"Lockheed's lander is slightly larger than one e of the others, "said Joe Landon. Vice President of Advanced Program Development at Lockheed Martins Commercial Civil Space Unit. He said the lander will be able to deliver payloads of up to 100 kilograms.
Near the other end of the business spectrum is Orbit Beyond, a small company planning to develop a number of lunar countries. The CLPS award will be combined with several other companies, including Team Indus, one of the Google Lunar X award finalists. Team Indus, based in Bangalore, India, is not eligible for a CLPS award itself, as NASA provides for development requirements for United States and domestic development.
Jeff Patton, chief engineering consultant at Orbit Beyond, said The company will transfer the technology to the Team Indus lander team so that versions can be built in the US. The company is reviewing potential Cape Canaveral, Florida facilities for integration and testing. "The design is really mature now," he said.
Masten Space Systems is developing a lunar lander called XL-1, which will be able to place up to 100 kilograms from 2021 on the lunar surface. Sean Mahoney, Masten's Chief Executive, called the award a long-awaited milestone for the company that had won part of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge nearly a decade ago, part of the NASA Centennial Challenges pricing program.
"From 2009 and the Lunar Lander." A challenge for today, we've been working to make sure this thing exists, "he said of CLPS.
He pointed out that many of the details of how CLPS works are not yet defined, but he was optimistic about his prospects. "Many of them are still evolving, but the good news is they're moving fast."