As NASA continues its focus on expanding human presence in space and exploring our solar system, the agency has recently announced new opportunities for private companies to join in on the exciting venture of lunar exploration.
Through the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative, NASA has awarded contracts to three companies to transport scientific payloads and technology demonstrations to the moon. These contracts, totaling $297 million, have been awarded to Astrobotic, Intuitive Machines, and Orbit Beyond, each of which will have the opportunity to launch two missions to the moon in the next few years.
Astrobotic, a Pittsburgh-based company, has been awarded $79.5 million to deliver up to 14 NASA payloads to the moon by 2021. These payloads will help to advance the exploration of the lunar surface, including geological research and the mapping of resources that could be used in future missions. Astrobotic has also announced plans to start offering commercial delivery services to the moon in the future, offering a cost-effective way for other companies and organizations to pursue lunar exploration.
Intuitive Machines, based in Houston, has been awarded $77 million for its first mission to the moon, scheduled for July 2021. The company plans to send a lander to the south pole of the moon, carrying five NASA payloads as well as a drill that will explore beneath the lunar surface.
Orbit Beyond, a New Jersey-based company, has been awarded $97 million for its first lunar mission, scheduled for September 2020. The company plans to launch a lander and carry four NASA payloads to the lunar surface.
These missions represent an exciting step forward in NASA`s efforts to advance knowledge and understanding of our nearest neighbor in space. With private companies playing an increasingly important role in lunar exploration, the possibilities for discovery and innovation are truly endless.
As the world watches and waits to see what these companies will discover and achieve as they explore the moon, it is clear that the potential for new breakthroughs and advancements in science and technology is boundless. We can`t wait to see what`s next for NASA, the private companies it has partnered with, and the future of lunar exploration.