NASA looks to outsource Moon delivery services

NASA looks to outsource Moon delivery services

CLPS is a multi-award contract worth $2.6 billion over the course of its 10 year performance period. Meanwhile, a startup called Orbit Beyond is in the running for NASA's moon payloads, and it's working with TeamIndus, the Indian spaceflight company that nearly won the Lunar X Prize competition.

By 2023, the first rocket would carry astronauts around the Moon, in an even more distant orbit than the Apollo 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.

Bridenstein said he's spoken with the South African-born Tesla founder, who promised he'd be changing his ways after being caught on video sipping a whiskey on the rocks and taking a hit from a joint on the "Joe Rogan Experience" podcast in September.

Remarks made on Thursday, Nov. 29 reinforced NASA's assertion it was returning to the Moon. His Space Policy Directive 1, signed last December, directs NASA to collaborate with the private sector in returning to the Moon en route to a longer-term mission to Mars.

"We're going to the moon in a way we have not been before-as partners with commercial industries", countered Bridenstine.

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"I will tell you that was not helpful, and that did not inspire confidence, and the leaders of these organizations need to take that as an example of what to do when you lead an organization that's going to launch American astronauts", he told the reporters. The agency said it will consider a number of factors when comparing bids, such as price, schedule and most importantly, technical feasibility.

NASA hopes that the first payloads flown under CLPS could be on their way as early as next year (2019).

NASA said in its own statement that winning proposals "will enable important technology demonstrations that will inform the development of future landers and other exploration systems needed for humans to return to the lunar surface, and help prepare the agency to send astronauts to explore Mars".

"We think we can achieve this in about 10 years", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told The Hill this week.

A major part of that renewed focus on the moon is establishing a commercial space infrastructure that could eventually reduce government costs while opening up new opportunities for business in low-Earth orbit and beyond.

He said the organization was struggling with financial burdens but there was a clear five-year plan that would lead to a new age of space technology. NASA wants to see how it goes at the moon before committing to commercial delivery services at Mars. The Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) has its first official partners. Now, NASA is contracting out its next moon missions to companies that will do long-term scientific study and experiments.

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