Media Invited to Discussion on Langley's Role in Moon to Mars Partnerships

Terry Joseph
December 1, 2018

America's next moon landing will be made by private companies, not Nasa.

That's the word from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, whose agency is working with SpaceX and Boeing to fly astronauts to the International Space Station. "The innovation of America's aerospace companies, wedded with our big goals in science and human exploration, are going to help us achieve incredible things on the Moon and feed forward to Mars".

SpaceX and Boeing are developing spaceships with NASA that will carry US astronauts into space for the first time since the last space shuttle flight in 2011.

NASA announced several commercial partners Thursday in the USA space agency's quest to return humans to the moon - and eventually Mars.

When NASA announced its Commercial Lunar Payload Services program earlier this year, there was some question at first about how to pronounce its vowel-less acronym, CLPS. Draper will manage the team and oversee the payload, flight computer, and navigation system for their lander, to be called Artemis-7. Although not tied to the aerospace giant's human-rated spacecraft, the company noted its experience with developing vehicles similar to this new lander.

'We want multiple providers that are competing on cost and innovation, Bridenstine said.

A Nova Labs Robotics "BrainStorm Troopers" team member from Reston, Virginia asks a question during NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) announcement November 29, 2018 at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

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He said future bases would be worldwide, and that he hoped the U.S. would lead the plans.

"This is part of the president's Space Policy Directive 1, where he directed me, as the NASA administrator, to go to the moon and to go with commercial partners".

"This is a response to the science community, who has for a long time decided that we needed to do science on the surface of the moon", Bridenstine said. Rather, they likened the effort to high-risk, high-reward bets by venture capital investors.

In addition to Lockheed Martin, NASA selected Draper, which developed computers for the Apollo missions, Astrobotic Technology Inc, Firefly Aerospace Inc, Moon Express and four others to potentially develop equipment for the program.

NASA's contracts with SpaceX and Boeing, both issued in 2013, require the contractors to "maintain a program for achieving a drug-and alcohol-free workforce". Now, within hours after NASA announced their plans to take humans to the moon, Russian Federation has revealed that they intend to build a lunar base by 2040.

Still, Earth's only natural satellite is being explored by other nations; China's Chang'e 4 and 5 missions, which would deliver a rover to the Moon, and return rock samples from the surface, is slated to launch next year.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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