Draper Tapped For NASA's 'Space Race' To Go Back To The Moon

SpaceX has been a contractor for Nasa since 2012

SpaceX has been a contractor for Nasa since 2012

Commercial maintenance program lunar payloads (also known as CLPS) based on the space policy Directive 1, signed by President Donald trump in December of past year.

For NASA, the goal is to gather valuable scientific data and to encourage the private sector to explore the space beyond low-Earth orbit.

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

The nine companies announced at the event will begin developing technology to support the upcoming Gateway lunar station and land small payloads on the moon itself.

NASA has big plans to go back to the moon, and it wants private companies to help them get there. Namely, that the USA would be returning to it "sooner than we might think". "This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprints - we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps someday, worlds beyond". No money was awarded Thursday.

Payloads, or the instruments and pieces of technology, could fly as early as 2019. The mission aims to prove SLS is safe and reliable by sending an uncrewed Orion spacecraft around the moon and back to Earth.

Lockheed Martin, which built the InSight lander that successfully touched down on Mars Monday, said it plans to build a robotic moon lander based on a similar design that could carry a variety of payloads.

Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said the moon is full of secrets and full of resources that can help supply human missions on the lunar surface, such as water.

As part of that directive, companies can bid on contracts to develop services to deliver new lunar payloads, through NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services.

NASA has said it expects work on a new space station laboratory to start as soon as 2022. But it isn't exclusively relying on the political bureaucracy to achieve this ambitious project - they're now partnering with the private sector to explore the stars. That drew the ire of NASA, which launched a safety review of SpaceX and Boeing - the other company partnering with NASA to launch the next-generation manned spacecraft - to ensure that both are following proper safety protocol and setting examples at the top.

Once the Crew Dragon and Boeing's ships prove they can launch safely and reliably, the agency's leadership will further debate its deep-space future with BFR and Blue Origin's New Glenn. NASA wants to see how it goes at the moon before committing to commercial delivery services at Mars.

"We are excited to partner with these fantastic companies at the dawn of a new era of lunar and solar system exploration", stated Moon Express founder & CEO, Bob Richards. The company will provide any number of contributions towards NASA's mission to the Moon.

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