The Biden Administration has announced that the United States and India will expand cooperation in space to include the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program under which NASA pays companies to deliver payloads to the moon. An Indian astronaut will also undergo spaceflight training at the space agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
In April 2018, NASA announced that it would no longer build robotic moon landers, but that it would pay private companies to deliver instruments to the surface under its new Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. Companies would supplement relatively meager NASA funding by selling the remaining payload space to other parties. NASA said CLPS would take “shots on goal,” with some failures expected.
Five years later, the program faces a major test with the launch of as many as three CLPs missions in 2023. These spacecraft will be part of a group of seven lunar landers launched this year, including one built by a private Japanese company and three others constructed by the Japanese, Indian and Russian space agencies.