NASA selects 11 companies to work towards new Moon landings

Bubbajim

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

NASA has been talking for a while now of returning humans to the Moon’s surface and this week they announced that Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin, SpaceX and eight other private companies have been awarded funding to carry out research and prototyping for the new technologies that will enable the literal moon-shot. This latest funding award totals $45.5 million, and comes not two months after NASA dished out $15 million apiece to two companies looking into 'space habitats'.

In a break with the usual way of partnering with the private sector, and in order to speed the process up, NASA are using “undefinitized contract actions” whereby work can begin before a full contract has been negotiated and agreed.

Director for human lunar exploration programs, Marshall Smith, said, “To accelerate our return to the Moon, we are challenging our traditional ways of doing business. We will streamline everything from procurement to partnerships to hardware development and even operations.”

Between them, the 11 companies chosen will study different parts of the descent, transfer and refuelling parts of getting people to the lunar surface and back. (The Transfer stage referred to here is getting from the previously announced ‘Gateway’, a space station orbiting our natural satellite, into a low-lunar orbit before the descent to the surface.)

So for example, Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin will be researching ‘one descent element, one transfer vehicle study and one transfer vehicle prototype,’ while SpaceX will be focusing solely on one element of the descent. A full list of the companies and what they will be investigating for NASA is available in the press release that broke the news.

These partnerships are very open-ended as NASA is not prescribing any particular design or approach for the companies, who instead are effectively being asked, “how would you solve these problems?” As such it will be interesting to see any details of what’s actually worked on over the next six months.

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Theinsanegamer

TS Evangelist
I dont understand how they are finding it so hard to get to the moon. We did this in the 60s with less electrical power then a vacuum cleaner and the computational power of a hamster FFS!
 
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Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
Part of the issue is the constraints that NASA is under today. After loosing two orbiters things have gotten tightened down so much that the risk factor is driving many of the decisions. Not saying this is bad but back in the 60's NASA was running fast and loose and while they got away with most of it, by today's "standards" the risks were too high.
With the quality of goods today you would think that risk had been overcome but to quote one of the more legendary astronauts "remember this extremely high tech equipment was built by the low bidder" .... and there is something to be said about that!
 

p51d007

TS Evangelist
I dont understand how they are finding it so hard to get to the moon. We did this in the 60s with less electrical power then a vacuum cleaner and the computational power of a hamster FFS!
Real simple back then...we had ENGINEERS that thought outside of the box, used slide rules and didn't rely on computers for everything ;)
Plus, it was one of those "us against the commies" races.
 

mbrowne5061

TS Evangelist
I dont understand how they are finding it so hard to get to the moon. We did this in the 60s with less electrical power then a vacuum cleaner and the computational power of a hamster FFS!
Real simple back then...we had ENGINEERS that thought outside of the box, used slide rules and didn't rely on computers for everything ;)
Plus, it was one of those "us against the commies" races.

That, and the plans were literally drawn by hand, and the parts were made by hand. The drawings have been lost, and the designers and builders are either dead or dying. We couldn't build another F-1 to save our lives, simply because we don't know how any more. We know the 'broad stokes', but none of the details of its design and construction.
 

Markoni35

TS Addict
I dont understand how they are finding it so hard to get to the moon. We did this in the 60s with less electrical power then a vacuum cleaner and the computational power of a hamster FFS!
Because that one in 60s was fake. This one will be for real.
Someone might, hopefully, for the first time, actually walk on the Moon.