NASA turning over moon landing efforts to companies in the private sector

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced Thursday that nine us companies will compete to deliver experiments to the lunar surface.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced the nine companies that will be the first to participate in the agency's new Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program.

The first flight could be next year with 2019 marking the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing.

Clapping even for a Mars spacecraft, InSight, that landed on the planet three days earlier. The companies will bid on contracts to deliver science and technology payloads to enable humans to travel back to the moon, and eventually on to Mars. In a departure from past practice, the companies own their rockets and spacecraft and can use them for other, non-government missions if a market develops.

"We believe that there is a lot of awesome science that we can do on the surface of the Moon", Bridenstine 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.

He said future bases would be worldwide, and that he hoped the United States would lead the plans.

In Paris, the French space agency CERN said everything seems fine for the moment, and that it is up to Nasa to communicate with the SEIS quake-sensing instrument.

Earlier this month, The Washington Post broke the news that NASA would conduct reviews of workplace culture in both SpaceX and Boeing following Musk's behavior on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast. Rather, they likened the effort to high-risk, high-reward bets by venture capital investors. SpaceX and Northrup Grumman are building and launching cargo ships to the International Space Station under commercial contracts that allow NASA to essentially purchase a given launch service rather than designing, developing and operating the vehicles in house.

"We're no stranger to commercial space business models, having built more than 100 commercial satellites and launched numerous Atlas and Titan commercial payloads", said Lisa Callahan, vice president and general manager for Commercial Civil Space at Lockheed Martin.

NASA said that additional companies could be included at a later date.

The move is part of NASA's goal of sending people to the Moon in the next decade, for the first time since the Apollo era of the 1960s and '70s.

The nine companies include Lockheed Martin Corp., Deep Space Systems Inc. and Moon Express Inc.

NASA Watch's Keith Cowing noted the announcement echoed a similar one 15 years ago in the same room to return to the moon, without much progress since.