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NASA Reveals 9 Commercial Partners for Lunar Missions

NASA Reveals 9 Commercial Partners for Lunar Missions

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced Thursday that Draper and eight other United States companies, ranging from tiny startups to defense giant Lockheed Martin, will compete for $2.6 billion in NASA contracts.

NASA's next lunar science experiments will arrive at the Moon via a spacecraft built by one of nine private companies - a first for one of the agency's science missions.

"When we go to the Moon, we want to be one customer of many customers in a robust marketplace between the Earth and the Moon", Mr Bridenstine said. That will depend on the success of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program.

Firefly Aerospace: An Austin-based company focused on economical and convenienct access to space for small payloads via reliable launch vehicles. The Apollo astronauts deployed them during their moon landings, but placing additional reflectors on the moon would enable precise measurements of its gravity.

NASA plans to have astronauts orbiting the moon again by 2023, with a landing a few years later.

For the new missions, the company said it will use its uncrewed lander, Artemis-7, to complete sample selection and return, contribute to plans for the eventual return of humans to the moon's surface.

Deep Space Systems  NASA
Deep Space Systems NASA

The partnering companies were announced during a press conference held at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., which was streamed live on NASA TV. NASA believes missions could begin as early as next year. 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".

Even Bridenstine said that while NASA wants the companies to succeed, the space agency is certain some of the efforts will fail. In 2016, Moon Express became the first commercial space company to receive US federal government authorization for a private mission to the Moon.

A spokesperson for SpaceX declined to comment on Bridenstine's remarks, the report said.

He added that he was the one who called for the safety review, announced November 20, of the two companies tasked with building the spacecraft that will enable Americans once again to send people to space - a capacity the U.S. lost in 2011 with the retirement of the space shuttle program.

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. "We know we need that kind of BFR - and whatever evolves from New Glenn - heavy-lift capability if we're going to do human exploration of the solar system". That's because Musk, the company's founder, is pursuing to reach the moon and Mars with BFR.

The dressing down came days after NASA ordered a safety review of Boeing and SpaceX, both under contract to fly astronauts to the International Space Station.

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