NASA Chooses 9 Companies to Bid on Lunar Delivery Contracts

The moon rising over Half Moon Bay. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Nine U.S. companies now are eligible to bid on NASA delivery services to the lunar surface through Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contracts, as one of the first steps toward long-term scientific study and human exploration of the Moon and eventually Mars.

These companies will be able to bid on delivering science and technology payloads for NASA, including payload integration and operations, launching from Earth and landing on the surface of the Moon. NASA expects to be one of many customers that will use these commercial landing services.

“Today’s announcement marks tangible progress in America’s return to the Moon’s surface to stay,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “The innovation of America’s aerospace companies, wedded with our big goals in science and human exploration, are going to help us achieve amazing things on the Moon and feed forward to Mars.”

The selected companies are:

  • Astrobotic Technology, Inc.: Pittsburgh
  • Deep Space Systems: Littleton, Colorado
  • Draper: Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Firefly Aerospace, Inc.: Cedar Park, Texas
  • Intuitive Machines, LLC: Houston
  • Lockheed Martin Space: Littleton, Colorado
  • Masten Space Systems, Inc.: Mojave, California
  • Moon Express: Cape Canaveral, Florida
  • Orbit Beyond: Edison, New Jersey

NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) initiated the request for proposals leading to these selections as the first step in achieving a variety of science and technology objectives that could be addressed by regularly sending instruments, experiments and other small payloads to the Moon. SMD serves as the NASA interface between the agency’s mission directorates, the scientific community, and other external stakeholders in developing a strategy to enable an integrated approach for robotic and human exploration within NASA’s Moon to Mars Exploration Campaign.

The Commercial Lunar Payload Services contracts are indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts with a combined maximum contract value of $2.6 billion during the next 10 years. The agency will look at a number of factors when comparing the bids, such as technical feasibility, price and schedule.

Lunar payloads could fly on these contracted missions as early as 2019. In October, NASA issued a call for potential lunar instruments and technologies to study the Moon, with proposals due in January. These early missions will enable important technology demonstrations that will inform the development of future landers and other exploration systems needed for humans to return to the lunar surface, and help prepare the agency to send astronauts to explore Mars.

NASA will re-examine the private market periodically for new and emerging lunar delivery capabilities, and may offer additional companies an opportunity to join Commercial Lunar Payload Services through a contract process called on-ramping.

For more information about NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration plans, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/moontomars

  • Jeff Smith

    Looks like a solid mix of existing and newer players. There’s certainly no lack of ideas among that list. It’ll be cool to see what comes of it!

  • windbourne

    Ah f65#.
    I expected something real. Not this shit.

  • Paul_Scutts

    Spot on, windbourne, you know when NASA’s preferred contractor, Boeing, isn’t on the list, then, you can back it in that, it’s pure BS. 🙁 Regards, Paul.

  • P.K. Sink

    I dunno…the companies listed are very real. So’s the dollar amount allocated.

  • Andrew_M_Swallow

    These are small landers that can go to the Moon within 3 years. Boeing will want money to pay to develop its lander and will probably take more than 3 years.

  • Andrew_M_Swallow

    An unusual thing about the announcement is that CLPS is being moved from the human directorate to NASA’s science directorate. The full effects of that will take a few years to become apparent.

  • envy

    Real? This is real. What’s more, it’s MUCH more likely to actually happen. This is far better than announcing another megaproject that will inevitably be 10 years out, then fall behind schedule and over budget and be axed by the next administration.

  • windbourne

    This was already known that they were were going to do new space for next lander. When NASA said they had exciting new direction yesterday, I was hoping they meant SX, BO, big, and ula were working with NASA to get man on moon.

  • P.K. Sink

    I can see your disappointment. But I’m more excited about this than I was about Obama’s ever-shrinking asteroid plan.

  • windbourne

    ARM kept building new space ( SLS is a Congress nightmare ). As such, I did not mind ARM. Current admin is keeping Congress BS going.

  • redneck

    I can see both viewpoints. I happen to think it more likely that a group of small projects will provide a few wins than larger projects working out mainly due to the oversight problems. Too many cooks…

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    I’m surprised SpaceX did not bid it’s Red Dragon work with an all propulsive delivery to the Moon.