NASA Reveals 9 Commercial Partners for Lunar Missions

Pablo Tucker
November 30, 2018

That's the message NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine delivered to the SpaceX CEO this week, during a meeting of journalists in Washington, D.C.

The next race to the moon will be a multibillion-dollar competition among private companies - including Cambridge-based Draper.

"These early commercial delivery missions will also help inform new space systems we build to send humans to the Moon in the next decade", said NASA.

Deep Space Systems: A Colorado-based company focused on systems engineering for supporting the design, development, integration, testing, and operations of science and exploration spacecraft.

Next year, SpaceX is preparing for the first flight of its Dragon crew capsule, with two astronauts on board, launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket.

The months-long assessment, expected to begin next year, is partly a response to Musk's recent appearance on a live podcast recording with comedian Joe Rogan, who handed the entrepreneur a blunt filled with tobacco and marijuana.

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.

Tourists take pictures of a NASA sign at the Kennedy Space Center visitors complex in Cape Canaveral, Florida April 14, 2010.

This announcement and its press conference demonstrate the continuing shift in NASA's direction, driven by Space Policy Directive 1.

"The U.S. return to the moon, and we will make it sooner than you think!" - the report says.

Most of the companies involved have never flown a spacecraft of this complexity and scale, and Bridenstine acknowledged that some of the CLPS missions will likely fail to achieve a "soft" landing on the lunar surface.

"Today's announcement marks tangible progress in America's return to the Moon's surface to stay", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

Draper, a research and development company, is one of nine private US firms participating in NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Service (CLPS) initiative, competing for a share of up to $2.6 billion over the next 10 years to deliver experiments to the lunar surface.

NASA has also awarded contracts to Boeing and SpaceX to fly astronauts to the International Space Station in the next year.

Bridenstine said NASA wants the companies to succeed, but "is certain some of the efforts will fail", AP reported. The agency is now working with commercial partners in an effort to produce a lunar transport "market" one created to further enable scientific exploration of our closest celestial neighbor.

"More missions, more science", a news release about the CLPS program promised.

Other reports by iNewsToday