Draper in space race for $2.6b in NASA moonshot contracts

Audrey Hill
December 1, 2018

NASA has not given any specifics for the bidding process, other than to say it will "look at a number of factors when comparing the bids, such as technical feasibility, price and schedule".

Firefly Aerospace: An Austin-based company focused on economical and convenienct access to space for small payloads via reliable launch vehicles. NASA will be one of multiple customers using these lunar services.

As part of NASA's plan to return to the Moon, CLPS is leveraging existing private sector services like Astrobotic to deliver their cargo shipments to the Moon.

'Working with USA companies is the next step to achieving long-term scientific study and human exploration of the moon and Mars, ' NASA said in a press release.

"The Artemis-7 design will fly multiple times before its first CLPS mission", said Seamus Tuohy, principal director of space systems at Draper. The company has previously worked with NASA to develop Moon commercial cargo transporation capabilities and was the first private company authorized by the U.S. government to land on the Moon.

NASA now is building a huge new rocket, the Space Launch System, and the Orion deep space capsule to carry astronauts back to lunar orbit in the early 2020s and eventually to a Lunar Gateway space station that will serve as an outpost for visiting astronauts and a jumping off point for human and robotic flights to and from the lunar surface.

Last year, the Trump administration signed Space Policy Directive 1, which authorised NASA to return humans to the surface of the Moon before people are sent onward to Mars.

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Bridenstine told The Atlantic that the audits were done to avoid tragedies similar to those in NASA's history.

Still, Earth's only natural satellite is being explored by other nations; China's Chang'e 4 and 5 missions, which would deliver a rover to the Moon, and return rock samples from the surface, is slated to launch next year. "What seems to have changed is the color of carpet", he said. We'll have to see how things pan out, but it would be surprising if we see Musk push the envelop going forward.

But even though the announcement lacked much substance, the program is still an important one for NASA and industry. This is not going to be 'Lucy and the football' again.

"This is a venture capital kind of effort", he told reporters Thursday. [Image: NASA] By example, he cited a set of retro-reflector instruments, in partnership with Germany and Israel, as nearly ready to go.

'We want multiple providers that are competing on cost and innovation, Bridenstine said. Our portfolio is larger, so we can take more risks and get it done fast.

'On the moon, there are precious resources, and we want to learn how to use them, and to go back with humans to explore how we can use them'. "And from there we build".

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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