The selected companies are:
- Blue Origin, Kent, Washington;
- Ceres Robotics, Palo Alto, California;
- Sierra Nevada Corporation, Louisville, Colorado;
- SpaceX, Hawthorne, California; and
- Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems Inc., Irvine, California.
NASA said the additions expand its work with US industry to build a strong marketplace to deliver payloads between Earth and the moon and broaden the network of partnerships that will enable the first woman and next man to set foot on the moon by 2024 as part of the agency’s Artemis program.
“American aerospace companies of all sizes are joining the Artemis program,” said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.
“Expanding the group of companies who are eligible to bid on sending payloads to the moon’s surface drives innovation and reduces costs to NASA and American taxpayers. We anticipate opportunities to deliver a wide range of science and technology payloads to help make our vision for lunar exploration a reality and advance our goal of sending humans to explore Mars.”
The addition of the five companies grows the list of approved vendors to 14 for the program, with contracts already being awarded to two to send as many as 14 science payloads to the moon in 2021 and expects to issue additional payload delivery orders.
“The CLPS initiative was designed to leverage the expertise and innovation of private industry to get to the moon quickly,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
“As we build a steady cadence of deliveries, we’ll expand our ability to do new science on the lunar surface, develop new technologies, and support human exploration objectives.”
NASA said that future payloads could include rovers, power sources and science experiments.
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