NASA expects the selected contractors to begin flying to the moon as early as next year. To put it simply, if musk is caught red-handed again, he, and consequently SpaceX, could be kicked out of the contract.
The companies will bid contracts worth a combined value of $US2.6 ($4) billion. Meanwhile, a startup called Orbit Beyond is in the running for NASA's moon payloads, and it's working with TeamIndus, the Indian spaceflight company that nearly won the Lunar X Prize competition. Under this architecture, NASA would become one "among many" customers.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Thursday that nine American companies will compete to carry experiments to the surface of the moon. The agency is now working with commercial partners in an effort to produce a lunar transport "market" one created to further enable scientific exploration of our closest celestial neighbor.
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Landing actual astronauts on the Moon probably won't happen until the end of the 2020s, NASA has said. The first few launches will probably be technology demonstrations, but NASA hopes to study radiation exposure on the moon as well as the potential for in-situ resource extraction. Crewed test flights are expected next summer but that timeline is also likely to change, the report said.
Remarks made on Thursday, Nov. 29 reinforced NASA's assertion it was returning to the Moon.
"We have been maturing our lander technology over the last 10 years in preparation for this day", Matthew Kuhns chief engineer with Masten Space Systems and SpaceFlight Insider contributor said when asked what this means for Masten. "Each are entrepreneurial pioneers of commercial space bringing key capabilities to the table, and we look forward to working with them in offering robotic expeditions to the Moon for science, commerce and exploration". "We're going at high speed", he said. "This time, when we go, no kidding, we're going to go". [Image: NASA] By example, he cited a set of retro-reflector instruments, in partnership with Germany and Israel, as nearly ready to go.
"When we go to the moon, we want to be one customer of many customers in a robust marketplace between the Earth and the moon". You've probably heard of some of these companies, but others are new players in space exploration. An open architecture builds sustainability.
"Think of it like venture capital". "But we have more providers".