In 1962, President John F. Kennedy said America would put a man on the moon and bring him back. The U.S. fulfilled the ambitious plan in 1968. Now, NASA plans to farm out new trips to the moon to private industry.
NASA has given the green light to nine companies that will be allowed to bid on handling commercial trips to the moon. None of the efforts are meant for human travel, although the plans are part of NASA’s Moon to Mars project, which has as a long-term goal of human travel to both places.
In comments provided by the agency, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said:
Today’s announcement marks tangible progress in America’s return to the Moon’s surface to stay. 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.
- Astrobotic Technology, Inc.: Pittsburgh
- Deep Space Systems: Littleton, Colorado
- Draper: Cambridge, Massachusetts
- Firefly Aerospace, Inc.: Cedar Park, Texas
- Intuitive Machines, LLC: Houston
- Lockheed Martin Space: Littleton, Colorado
- Masten Space Systems, Inc.: Mojave, California
- Moon Express: Cape Canaveral, Florida
- Orbit Beyond: Edison, New Jersey
The maximum value of the contracts over 10 years will be $2.5 billion.
NASA described the parameters of the plan:
NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) initiated the request for proposals leading to these selections as the first step in achieving a variety of science and technology objectives that could be addressed by regularly sending instruments, experiments and other small payloads to the Moon.