NASA Selects 3 Companies to Build Commercial Lunar Landers Advancing Artemis Moon Landing Program

Commercial landers will
carry NASA-provided science and technology payloads to the lunar surface,
paving the way for NASA astronauts to land on the Moon by 2024.  Credits: NASA

Ken
Kremer —
SpaceUpClose.com &
RocketSTEM
– 31 May 2019



CAPE CANAVERAL, FL –  NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced today the selection of the first 3 American
companies contracted to build commercial robotic lunar landers carrying 
NASA science payloads to the Moon’s surface
in support of and to  advance 
the
agencies Artemis human lunar landing program #Moon2024
to return American astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024. 


“We are going to the Moon — to stay. Today, I am revealing
the American companies who will deliver science & technology to the lunar
surface. Congratulations to
@Astrobotic, @Int_Machines & @OrbitBeyond!” said NASA Administrator Jim
Bridenstine in a NASA TV broadcast and media briefing, today May 31. 



The first commercial lunar landing could place as soon as
September 2020 by Orbit Beyond. Their Z-01 lander
will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9.



The other two companies are targeting launches in June and July
2021. Intuitive Machines will launch their Nova-C lander also on a Falcon 9.
The launcher for the Astrobotic Peregrine lander is yet to be determined.  



Each of the 3 private landers will carry science and
technology payloads supplied and selected by NASA. 



“Our selection of these U.S. commercial landing
service providers represents America’s return to the Moon’s surface for the
first time in decades, and it’s a huge step forward for our Artemis lunar
exploration plans.” 



”Next year, our initial science and technology
research will be on the lunar surface, which will help support sending the
first woman and the next man to the Moon in five years. Investing in these
commercial landing services also is another strong step to build a commercial
space economy beyond low-Earth orbit.”



The combined value of the contracts is about $250 million to carry up to 23 NASA payloads. 

The
three companies selected to provide commercial Moon landing services will
deliver NASA science and technology payloads under Commercial Lunar
Payload Services
(CLPS) as part of the Artemis program.

Orbit Beyond of Edison,
New Jersey, has proposed to fly as many as four payloads to a lava plain in one
of the Moon’s craters.  Credits: Orbit
Beyond

CLPS represents a completely new way of doing business for
NASA science and the agency hopes this commercial approach will vastly speed up
the development process and deliver payloads to the lunar surface much quicker and
for less money than under a solely NASA run program.



Under CLPS NASA is the customer for the commercial lunar
launders which will be designed and built by the 3 companies not by NASA,
although NASA will provide some oversight and help as the companies meet and
achieve milestones to receive payments.



“These private partners will us get to the Moon. They will
build the spacecraft,” said Thomas Zurbuchen,
associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington,
during the NASA webcast announcement from NASA Goddard In Maryland.



In fact NASA is just one of multiple customers for each of
the commercial companies which will also include non-NASA US entities and international
space agencies. 

Intuitive Machines of
Houston has proposed to fly as many as five payloads to a scientifically
intriguing dark spot on the Moon.  Credits: Intuitive
Machines

Here are the selections as outlined by NASA
including the contract amounts, landing sites and dates:





·       
Astrobotic of Pittsburgh
has been awarded $79.5 million and has proposed to fly as many as 14 payloads
to Lacus Mortis, a large crater on the near side of the Moon, by July 2021.



·       
Intuitive Machines of
Houston has been awarded $77 million. The company has proposed to fly as many
as five payloads to Oceanus Procellarum, a scientifically intriguing dark spot
on the Moon, by July 2021.
 



·       
Orbit Beyond of Edison,
New Jersey, has been awarded $97 million and has proposed to fly as many as
four payloads to Mare Imbrium, a lava plain in one of the Moon’s craters, by
September 2020. 

Astrobotic of Pittsburgh
has proposed to fly as many as 14 payloads to a large crater on the near side
of the Moon.  Credits: Astrobotic

“These
landers are just the beginning of exciting commercial partnerships that will
bring us closer to solving the many scientific mysteries of our Moon, our solar
system, and beyond,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s
Science Mission Directorate in Washington. 



“What
we learn will not only change our view of the universe, but also prepare our
human missions to the Moon and eventually Mars.”



NASA’s
lunar orbiting  LRO spacecraft will
provide high resolution imagery and spectral data to each company to assist
them with their proposed landing sites.
 


“Each
partner is providing end-to-end commercial payload delivery services to NASA,
including payload integration and operations, launch from Earth and landing on
the surface of the Moon. These early missions will enable important technology
demonstrations that will inform the development of future landers and other
exploration systems needed for humans to return to the lunar surface. They also
will help prepare the agency to send astronauts to explore Mars,” according to
a NASA description.



NASA
is preparing task orders for future lunar landing missions.



During
the telecon I asked when will NASA send a probe to the lunar South Pole to
sample and analyze the composition of the lunar water ice in the permanently
shadowed craters.



NASA’s
Steve Clarke,
deputy associate administrator for exploration in NASA’s
science mission directorate
, responded that such a mission is upcoming possibly in 2022 or 2023.



It
may by a NASA run mission and could perhaps also involve a sample return. 



Stay
tuned.



Watch for Ken’s continuing
onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman
and more space and mission reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape
Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida and Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.



Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and
Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer
– email: ken at kenkremer.com



Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the
KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about
space topics.

………….

Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events
















Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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