NASA released a draft request for proposals April 27 that called for US companies to "introduce new technologies to deliver payloads to the Moon", NASA said when announcing the initial request for proposals.
"Today's announcement marks tangible progress in America's return to the Moon's surface to stay", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. Draper is another long-time space contractor in the CLPS program.
"They haven't done spacecraft so this is a bit of a new departure for them", McDowell said.
Under the CLPS program, Astrobotic's Peregrine lunar lander is poised to serve as America's workhorse robotic lander, delivering up to 265 kilograms of payload on each mission.
Lunar payloads could fly on these contracted missions as early as 2019. The company will provide any number of contributions towards NASA's mission to the Moon.
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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. "This time, when we go, no kidding, we're going to go". NASA had "never done anything that fast" before, Zurbuchen said.
When NASA announced its Commercial Lunar Payload Services program earlier this year, there was some question at first about how to pronounce its vowel-less acronym, CLPS.
President Trump has named sending American astronauts to the Moon as a goal for his administration.
SpaceX and Boeing are developing spaceships with NASA that will carry US astronauts into space for the first time since the last space shuttle flight in 2011.
Earlier this year, NASA shocked scientists by canceling the Resource Prospector mission, the only American lunar rover now in development.
He said future bases would be worldwide, and that he hoped the U.S. would lead the plans.
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Draper is a not-for-profit which was involved with the Apollo Moon landings.
But he was cheered by the possibility that partnerships with the aerospace industry might make the Moon more accessible.
"We want to establish and open architecture capability-of data, communications, avionics, docking-to go from the Earth to the moon over and over again so any individual who can attract the capital, or company, could access it", said Bridenstine.
Bridenstine said NASA wants the companies to succeed, but "is certain some of the efforts will fail", AP reported.
The announcement is part of NASA's larger goal to get back to the moon, and Bridenstine is enthusiastic about our lunar future.
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