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Space Exploration
Space 2023: Major Test of NASA’s Commercial Moon Program as Armada of Landers Head for Lunar Surface
This image of the Moon was taken by ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst from the International Space Station during his Horizons mission. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

Part 2 of a Series

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.

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