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Nine companies will help NASA get back to the Moon

By Cal Jeffrey · 4 replies
Nov 30, 2018
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  1. On Thursday NASA announced it had selected nine companies to help achieve its lunar goals. Following a directive signed last year by President Trump, the aerospace administration launched the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. Its multi-year plan looks to deliver several small payloads of instruments and rovers to the surface of the Moon with manned missions planned for later.

    Aside from Lockheed Martin and Draper, most of the aerospace firms are not too well known. Astrobotic, Moon Express, Masten Space Systems, Deep Space Systems, Firefly Aerospace, Intuitive Machines, and Orbit Beyond have all been picked to provide services to NASA on future lunar missions.

    Perhaps surprisingly absent are Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ company Blue Origin. The Verge notes that both had expressed interest in the program, but were not selected. However, it is too early to rule them out. NASA will continue looking at private sector for innovations and delivery solutions. An "on-ramping" provision will allow the agency to select other companies to join over the course of the CLPS program.

    NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine indicated that they wanted to have a wide variety of providers to ensure vigorous competition on both costs and innovation. The companies will be competing for portions of a $2.6 billion purse over the next ten years.

    “Today’s announcement marks tangible progress in America’s return to the Moon’s surface to stay,” said Bridenstine. “The innovation of America’s aerospace companies, wedded with our big goals in science and human exploration, are going to help us achieve amazing things on the Moon and feed forward to Mars.”

    NASA will evaluate bids based on technical feasibility, price, and schedule, among other things when considering contract awards. The agency has already called for the development of instrumentation and other lunar-focused technologies. It expects to start hearing proposals by January. Missions could feasibly begin as early as 2019.

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  2. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,071   +1,548

    Not to nit pick, but its "Blue Origin".

    NASA does things for a reason. I am sure that they believe their reasons for their choices were good. I would hope that there is nothing political about the decision. From my perspective, I can understand it. With all the publicity about how flaky Musk is, I bet that weighed somewhat in their decision. Solid science is something that cannot be underestimated in the success of a venture like this. Musk's often grandiose speculation, IMO, detracts from sound science. IMO, Musk seems to want to be the first, but not necessarily the best. To me, a venture like this needs the best, not the first.

    Blue Origin and SpaceX both have other NASA contracts.
     
    Cal Jeffrey likes this.
  3. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,040   +556

    >Draper
    >Unknown

    Wut?

    Draper Labs is one of the premier aerospace and high tech R&D labs in the world. They are pretty much king of the private sector when it comes to working with new and cool technology (though I hear their internal culture is atrocious).

    I also agree wiyosaya. NASA is never going to give Musk an exploration contract because he is too prone to pageantry, and this runs so counter to the culture at NASA. They'll give him supply and maintenance contracts until the cows come home, but never a contract to do something unique. Plus, they're government and the government loves to 'spread the wealth' when it comes to their contracts. SpaceX has contracts already, time for other companies to get some.

    As for Lockheed; that can pretty much be explained by them being the only other option besides SpaceX for heavy Lunar launches, plus they have a very capable lobbying machine (while SpaceX has a PR machine instead).
     
    Cal Jeffrey and wiyosaya like this.
  4. toooooot

    toooooot TS Evangelist Posts: 391   +171

    This is good. Let more companies and new geniuses a chance show what they can do. We need more and even MORE of the smart guys like that geek from a popular meme who works for Xspace now.
     
  5. Cal Jeffrey

    Cal Jeffrey TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 1,344   +340

    I blame The Verge! lol Thanks.
    Didn't claim Draper was unknown, hence the use of the descriptive "most," but I do see the insinuation there. Fixed. Thanks. ;)
     
    mbrowne5061 and wiyosaya like this.

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