NASA Plans To Operate Commercial Lunar Delivery Services In 2019

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What’s clear by now is that NASA is eager to return humans to the Moon, undoubtedly. But, the US space agency has even more plans than just coming back to the Earth’s satellite. Back in November 2018, NASA asked private space companies to come up with solutions for the US space agency to deliver robotic payloads to the Moon.

The project, the so-called Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS), came up with some novelties. On February 14th, NASA officials “announced that the first “task order” for such delivery would likely come out in a month or so – and that flight is expected to follow in relatively short order,” as Space.Com reported.

“For us, if we had any wish, I would like to fly this calendar year,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said during a webcast “media roundtable” at agency headquarters in Washington, cited by Space.Com.

NASA Plans To Operate Commercial Lunar Delivery Services In 2019

Now, back in November, NASA selected the following nine private space companies: Astrobotic, Deep Space Systems, Draper, Firefly Aerospace, Intuitive Machines, Lockheed Martin Space, Masten Space Systems, Moon Express, and Orbit Beyond.

“We care about speed. We want to start taking shots on goal. We do not expect that every one of those launches, or every one of those landings, will be successful,” Zurbuchen said, who added that the US space agency would choose the eligible private space companies that would have sufficient financial incentives to help NASA go to the Moon faster.

“One of the most critical pieces of this plan [Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS)] is a small space station, called the Gateway, which NASA aims to start building in lunar orbit in 2022. Gateway will be a hub for many kinds of lunar exploration, including sorties to the surface by landers both crewed and un-crewed,” Space.Com reported.