NASA's Martian quake sensor InSight lands at slight angle

The space agency said in a statement the goal is to bring many science and technology experiments to the moon as soon as possible.

Forward-looking: NASA promises to put astronauts on the moon once again, but first, its CLPS program needs to deliver payloads of equipment and instruments to the lunar surface.

Private companies - instead of NASA - will lead the race back to the moon, with launch target dates set for 2019 - the 50 anniversary of the first manned moon landing. In addition to Firefly Aerospace Agency has selected Lockheed Martin, Astrobotic, Masten Space Systems and Moon Express, Draper, Intuitive Machines, Deep Space Systems.

NASA hopes that others will use these services as space travel becomes an endeavour accessible to private corporations.

Nonetheless, the Russians are not talking about lunar exploration but about a Moon colony which would mean people living on the Earth's natural satellite for long periods, which is somewhat different from what NASA has in mind at the moment and more similar to what Elon Musk and SpaceX have in plan for Mars.

In December, President Trump signed Space Policy Directive 1, giving NASA a new direction: "The directive I am signing today will refocus America's space program on human exploration and discovery".

NASA's CLPS programme will offer contracts worth a combined value of about $2.6 billion over the next 10 years. Now Draper is in a new, homegrown space race to deliver unmanned craft to the lunar surface.

America's next moon landing will be made by private companies - possibly one from Colorado - not NASA.

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

Mr Musk's SpaceX is one of two firms contracted to build a shuttle that will fly United States astronauts to the International Space Station from American territory - something that was ended in 2011.

These Commercial Lunar Payload Services contracts are initial steps toward continuous sustainable scientific study and human exploration on the moon, eventually Mars, and beyond.

NASA's current plan is to start by sending gear to the Moon, and build an orbiting lunar station beginning in 2022. These companies will be developing small launch vehicles and robotic rovers over the next 10 years.

Bridenstine stated that he had "a number of conversations" with Musk about his actions and erratic behavior over the past year.

Russian space agency Roscosmos recently revealed its plans to build up a human colony on the moon with 20 years, by 2040.

If more hiccups come with the program, NASA may be watching SpaceX beat the agency to the moon with a crewed mission. The new space station would orbit the moon.

Lockheed Martin was responsible for the InSight lander, which landed on Mars earlier this week.