NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced Thursday that nine us companies will compete to deliver experiments to the lunar surface. And India and China both have announced plans to send robotic explorers to the moon's surface in 2019.
Within the partnerships, NASA will be one of many customers who will use lunar services such as rocket rides, Bridenstine said.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has said SpaceX founder Elon Musk will not be smoking weed in public again. "And we want multiple providers that are competing on cost and innovation so we as NASA can do more than we've ever been able to do before". The mission: to deliver scientific instruments to the moon, as a prelude to setting up permanent bases for people. NASA has long contracted with major USA aerospace companies to help develop and build spacecraft, but in recent years, Alan Boyle at Geekwire says, the business model has shifted in a big way.
But at a gathering with reporters at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., yesterday (Nov. 29), Bridenstine said he himself got the wheels turning, according to The Atlantic's Marina Koren, who was there. "There is a lot of wonderful science we can do on the surface of the moon that we can't do anywhere else".
The announcement is part of NASA's larger goal to get back to the moon, and Bridenstine is enthusiastic about our lunar future. "Let's not do it alone", Deputy Director for NASA Langley Research Center Deborah Tomek said.
"What they bring to their consortium is tried and tested navigation systems", said Chad Anderson, chief executive of Space Angels, a NY investment firm that finances space-oriented startups. "That foil collected material from the sun and provided the best measurements of the sun we had for the next 25 years".
"We didn't want to wait until after there's an accident, because we don't believe there's going to be an accident, but we wanted to make sure that we do that assessment early and not after the fact".
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He said the organization was struggling with financial burdens but there was a clear five-year plan that would lead to a new age of space technology.
Bridenstein said his decision to launch the safety reviews was made in consideration of previous spacecraft tragedies, such as the Apollo 1 fire in 1967, which left three astronauts dead, and the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle disasters that killed 14.
A layout of NASA's Moon to Mars mission.
The agency mulled a review of SpaceX and Boeing before Musk's appearance on "The Joe Rogan Experience", according to the NASA head.
Throughout the past moon missions, astronauts spent only 16 days at six sites on the surface.
"We think we can achieve this in about 10 years, the idea being prove the capability, retire the risk, prove the human physiology and then go on to Mars".
The teaming with veteran USA commercial space companies provides broad and deep technical capabilities and experience in spacecraft development, thermal engineering, flight software and payload management that compliments Moon Express and its plans to offer regular commercial robotic expeditions to the Moon beginning in 2020. Deep Space Systems, which has worked on Orion, Juno, and other NASA missions is also in the mix.
More ambitious science projects could include astronomical observatories on the far side of the moon, where interference from Earth is blocked entirely.