NASA Select Three Lunar Lander Commercial Partners

Lego’s minifigure recreation of the Apollo 11 lunar landing comes with a moonscape

Lego’s minifigure recreation of the Apollo 11 lunar landing comes with a moonscape

The administration of President Donald Trump has accelerated the timetable for putting humans back on the Moon with 2024 the new target date - moved up by four years.

That's one giant heap of Lego bricks: To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, the Lego Group is unveiling a 1,087-piece building set that recreates the mission's Eagle lunar module.

According to NASA, this is an important step for its Artemis program.

These partners will deliver NASA-mandated "science and technology payloads" that will perform investigations and "demonstrate advanced technologies" on the Moon's surface.

They should announce that by the end of the summer.

The payload missions will take place under NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program and involve commercial landers equipped with payloads from the space agency.

Last November, NASA chief Jim Bridenstine announced that the agency had picked nine different companies to participate in the CLPS program: Astrobotic Technology Inc., Deep Space Systems, Draper, Firefly Aerospace Inc., Intuitive Machines LLC, Lockheed Martin Space, Masten Space Systems, Inc., Moon Express and Orbit Beyond.

The companies and contract amounts are Astrobotic, of Pittsburgh, Pa., $79.5 million; Intuitive Machines, of Houston, Texas, $77 million; and OrbitBeyond, of Edison, N.J., $97 million. "The whole thing lands on the Moon.", said Lego designer Lars Joe as he explained the features and design of building set in a video.

The potential payloads include instruments that will conduct new lunar science, pinpoint lander position, measure the lunar radiation environment, assess how lander and astronaut activity affects the Moon, and assist with navigation precision, among other capabilities. The Intuitive Machines lander is also scheduled to be launched by July 2021.

Orbit Beyond will land in Mare Imbrium, a lava plain in a lunar crater, by September 2020, after being launched by one of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets.

The announcement Friday doubled the number of payloads in place for Astrobotic's first launch of the its Peregrine lunar lander. This mode kept the CSM and its heavy load of fuel for the return flight in orbit around the Moon, while a dedicated landing vehicle descended to the Moon's surface. NASA's confidence in our services is a testament to the hard work of the Astrobotic team, which spent 12 years making commercial lunar delivery a reality.

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