Draper in space race for $2.6b in NASA moonshot contracts

NASA pushing for continuous manned presence on moon ‘within 10yrs

Twitter @Astro_Alex Alexander Gerst European Space Agency

Forward-looking: NASA promises to put astronauts on the moon once again, but first, its CLPS program needs to deliver payloads of equipment and instruments to the lunar surface.

Meanwhile, NASA is planning to go back to the moon too and has recently partnered with nine private firms to help it achieve its goal.

The companies announced today include Astrobotic Technology, Deep Space Systems, Draper, Firefly Aerospace, Intuitive Machines, Lockheed Martin, Masten Space Systems, Moon Express, and Orbit Beyond.

Deep Space Systems  NASA
Deep Space Systems NASA

In October, Blue Origin said it's "in the conceptual design phase" of building a large lunar lander called The company is also creating a, which might take flight in 2020.

The dressing down came days after NASA ordered a safety review of Boeing and SpaceX, both under contract to fly astronauts to the International Space Station.

The first orbital test flights of Crew Dragon and Starliner are now targeted for early next year, with crewed demo missions to follow in mid-2019. This new plan hopes to allow for a diverse array of customers send their payloads to the Moon. The company was part of the Apollo moon missions that began in the '60s. As the event continued, he and Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, detailed the numerous technical capabilities required for the Moon mission that the private companies will be competing to develop. NASA wants to return to the moon to make scientific discoveries, find resources and establish an off-Earth presence for humans.

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"(The) announcement marks tangible progress in America's return to the Moon's surface to stay", Bridenstine said.

The American plan for space exploration will unfold in stages, starting with the transition from the current model of human space activities in low-Earth orbit to a model where the government is only one customer for commercial services. Working with US companies is the next step to achieving long-term scientific study and human exploration of the Moon and Mars. NASA is now working with commercial partners to carry astronauts to and from the space station. These companies will be developing small launch vehicles and robotic rovers over the next 10 years. Draper is another long-time space contractor in the CLPS program.

"We believe that there is a lot of incredible science that we can do on the surface of the Moon", Bridenstine said.

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The agency hopes that this new program will help bring the US back to the surface of the moon. He also said he expects to have people regularly working on the moon within 10 years. We saw, earlier this week, their InSight probe land on the surface of Mars and just yesterday, reports were made from a senior administrator that some big "Moon" news was on the way.

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