NASA Selects Nine US Companies To Vie For Moon Program Funding

US-SPACE-NASA-MARS

"This is also the first step toward the Moon in relation to Space Policy Directive-1". "We're gonna buy the service", he cheered.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine hosted a press conference today to reveal the next phase of the agency's lunar ambitions. The company is now developing a "Peregrine Lander" aimed at orbital and surface operations for any lunar destination.

"The directive I'm signing today will refocus America's space program on human exploration and discovery", the president said at the signing ceremony.

During Thursday's presentation, Bridenstine was joined by Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, astronaut Stan Love, Andrea Mosie (televised from Johnson Space Center), Apollo sample laboratory manager and Barbara Cohen (televised from Goddard Space Flight Center), associate project scientist for Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Still, the focus on smaller payloads has opened the door to startups in CLPS as well as established aerospace firms. Their priority is providing low-cost rocket access to low Earth orbit (LEO).

Lockheed Martin: An industry giant with a long, established history of involvement with NASA and human spaceflight. The mission: to deliver scientific instruments to the moon, as a prelude to setting up permanent bases for people.

NASA has selected the first batch of USA companies to join the agency on its journey to its next destination, the moon, which NASA wants to explore in order to prepare to go on to Mars.

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The companies selected range from a major aerospace corporation, Lockheed Martin, to little-known startups, and from companies that were longtime competitors in the now-expired Google Lunar X Prize for commercial lunar landers to those that had not previously publicly expressed plans for such landers.

"We are excited to partner with these incredible companies at the dawn of a new era of lunar and solar system exploration", stated Moon Express founder & CEO, Bob Richards.

Jeff Patton, chief engineering advisor for Orbit Beyond, said the company will transfer the technology for Team Indus' lander so that versions of it can be built in the US, with the company looking at potential facilities in the Cape Canaveral, Florida, area for integration and testing.

Mars also looms large in America's space future. The agency now partners with the private sector for other missions, including human transport to the International Space Station (ISS) wherein SpaceX and Boeing are developing capsules for that objective, and the Directive expands that to include deep space missions. Some of these have already made successful voyages to the Moon and Mars.

The Space Policy Directive was born from the recommendations provided during the first meeting of the new National Space Council, a group under the US Department of Commerce's Office of Space Commerce.

Lockheed Martin's lander was named in honor of NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless II who flew on STS-41B and STS-31. Direct support to the ISS will end by 2025.

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