Private enterprise will help NASA return to the moon

Commercial lunar payload contractors

Nasa along with Musk's SpaceX and Boeing is developing transportation systems that would allow the USA to fly astronauts from American soil for the first time since the space shuttle was retired in 2011.

A NASA picture taken by US crew commander Eugene A. Cernan, on December 13, 1972 shows astronaut and geologist Harrison H. Schmitt seated in the Lunar Roving Vehicle.

NASA administrator, Jim Bridenstine, announced that nine private-sector aerospace companies, including Lockheed Martin, will develop the spacecraft and technology to get the US back to the moon.

"Lunar payloads could fly on these contracted missions as early as 2019", NASA said in an earlier news release.

Those companies are Astrobotic, Deep Space Systems, Firefly Aerospace, Intuitive Machines, Lockheed Martin, Mastern Space Systems, Moon Express, Draper and Orbit Beyond.

The companies, some which will develop small launch vehicles and robotic rovers over the next 10 years, will vie for a chunk of the US$2.6 billion under the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Commercial Lunar Payload Services programme.

More news: NASA Control Room Erupts in Celebration Over Successful Spacecraft Touchdown on Mars

Speaking later to AFP, Bridenstine said the review shows how seriously NASA takes the safety of its astronauts.

Nasa wants to see how it goes at the moon before committing to commercial delivery services at Mars. He cited a planned "open architecture" that would allow for a sustained ecosystem among Earth, the moon, and a planned lunar gateway orbiting the moon.

NASAs 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. This came after discussions were held on the country's long-term space program.

It was reported earlier that Roscosmos and the Russian Academy of Sciences within three months form the lunar program Russia and submit it to the President and the government.

In a presentation about the lunar programme, Russian news agency RIA Novosti cited Yevgeny Mikrin, Russia's chief designer of manned space programmes, as saying that construction of the moon colony could begin late in 2025, as per a report in the Moscow Times.

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