NASA partners with private companies to return to the Moon

NASA looks to outsource Moon delivery services

NASA has a plan for astronauts to orbit the moon in 2023 and return to the surface by the late 2020s using a lunar lander.

The revived interest in the moon can be attributed in part to President Trump's Space Policy Directive which views the moon as a vital staging area for future missions to Mars, manned or otherwise.

NASA's going back to the moon.

Draper will lead a team, including three other companies, to design, manufacture and launch a lunar lander - dubbed "Artemis-7" - to the moon.

The research is meant to help get astronauts back to the moon more quickly and keep them safer once they arrive.

NASA did say its solar arrays have deployed, which is good news since the lander runs on solar energy.

The NASA official has had "a number of conversations" with Musk, and is seemingly convinced in the businessman's commitment to safety.

The Commercial Lunar Payload Services contracts announced Thursday have a combined maximum value of $2.6 billion over the next 10 years.

NASA has not said anything about the condition of the other instruments on board, which include a French-made seismometer to study Marsquakes and a German self-hammering mole to measure heat's escape from the planet. He also said he expects to have people regularly working on the moon within 10 years.

NASA will also re-evaluate the private sector landscape periodically for emerging players that may be able to offer lunar delivery capabilities, and which may offer CLPS contacts to more companies through on-ramping process. SpaceX and Northrop Grumman, formerly Orbital ATK, have built space station shipments since 2012.

Earlier this month The Washington Post reported that NASA had ordered reviews of workplace culture in both SpaceX and Boeing following the podcast of featuring Musk went public.

The initiative is part of Space Policy Directive 1, a year-old change in national space policy calling for a US -led coalition of commercial and global partners enabling human expansion across the solar system by first returning humans to the moon, which offers a closer and, therefore, lower-risk proving ground to Mars.

Astrobiotic Technology Inc., Pittsburgh; Draper, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Firefly Aerospace Inc., Cedar Park, Texas; Intuitive Machines, Houston; Masten Space Systems Inc., Mojave, California; Moon Express, Cape Canaveral, Florida; and Orbit Beyond, Edison, New Jersey. Missions could feasibly begin as early as 2019.

Of the group, the only well-known name is aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, which has a long track record of success with NASA and built the InSight lander that touched down Monday on Mars.

The ultimate goal of Commercial Crew is to revive United States spaceflight capabilities that the agency lost when it retired the space shuttle fleet in 2011. His report is based on information from the Associated Press, Reuters and NASA.

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