Will the Return to the Moon be Invitation Only?
ESA’s announcement also made mention of a second task area, which has me a bit worried. It concerns the Cargo Lander, which will involve the delivery of cargo and logistics to the lunar surface. According to ESA this task â€œwas identified by both ESA and NASA as a possible European contribution to a future international program of lunar exploration and would take the form of a lunar Cargo Lander.â€
I suppose it is good news that ESA and NASA are already carving out tasks for a lunar program, but what about the companies now being awarded commercial contracts by NASA to deliver cargo to the International Space Station? If SpaceX and Orbital Sciences spend hundreds of millions of dollars to create routine cargo delivery to low Earth orbit, why should we just throw that experience away and start again with ferrying cargo to the Moon? Is this something that should be â€œgivenâ€ to a government agency?
It might make more sense to hold out options to ferry additional cargo beyond ISS to the companies that survive and prosper during the space station era, and not to award the service to newcomers, regardless of the nationality of the bidder.
Read Jeff’s full analysis.