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article imageNASA chooses five new companies to partner with Artemis Program

By Karen Graham     Nov 19, 2019 in Science
Five new companies, including SpaceX and Blue Origin, were chosen by NASA to join nine other vendors selected in November 2018, in its Commercial Lunar Payload Services program (CLPS) on Monday.
The five companies selected to join NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services program (CLPS) include SpaceX, Blue Origin, Sierra Nevada Corp., Ceres Robotics and Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, Inc.
These companies will be joining the following nine companies chosen earlier for the CLPS project - Astrobotic, Deep Space Systems, Draper, Firefly Aerospace, Intuitive Machines, Lockheed Martin Space, Masten Space Systems, Moon Express, and Orbit Beyond in providing lunar landers.
Mandated by President Donald Trump's Space Policy Directive 1 in December 2017, the Artemis Moon Project is a renaming of several earlier activities NASA was already undertaking to return humans to the moon. Most people will remember that one part of the Artemis Program is the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, an orbiting station around the moon.
An artist s illustration of Lockheed Martin s proposed moon lander attached to the Lunar Orbital Pla...
An artist's illustration of Lockheed Martin's proposed moon lander attached to the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, a small space station that NASA aims to start building in lunar orbit in 2022.
Lockheed Martin
This brings up another Artemis Project, the Space Launch System (SLS), a gigantic new rocket NASA is developing. Four-person crews would access the station using the Orion deep-space capsule and remain for 30 to 90-day stints. The SLS has been in the works since 2014, with a then-projected date for launch in 2017.
However, as we now know, in March this year, NASA cast a shadow on the future of its new heavy-lift rocket, the SLS -- acknowledging development delays on a project that is already years behind. The project has already cost over $12 billion, and Boeing is using more than 1,000 subcontractors in 43 US states to get the job done.
This illustration shows NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) in the Block 1 cargo configuration. In pl...
This illustration shows NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) in the Block 1 cargo configuration. In place of NASA’s Orion spacecraft, there is a fairing to protect cargo, or payloads, during launch.
NASA
Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative
This brings us to the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) project. Basically, NASA needs robotic Moon landers to deliver payloads to the lunar surface, helping to pave the way for the return of astronauts to the moon by 2024.
"American aerospace companies of all sizes are joining the Artemis program," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement. "Expanding the group of companies who are eligible to bid on sending payloads to the moon's surface drives innovation and reduces costs to NASA and American taxpayers. We anticipate opportunities to deliver a wide range of science and technology payloads to help make our vision for lunar exploration a reality and advance our goal of sending humans to explore Mars."
Artistic rendition of Starship separating from Super Heavy during launch.
Artistic rendition of Starship separating from Super Heavy during launch.
Space Exploration Technologies Corp.
The moon landers will come in every size imaginable - from the SpaceX Starship vehicle - to the smaller one-off probes like the boxy concept proposed by Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems. Blue Origin's lander concept is based on its Blue Moon uncrewed vehicle, while Sierra Nevada Corp. and Ceres Robotics are developing mid-sized landers that can be scaled up if needed.
NASA plans to spend a total of $2.6 billion on its CLPS contracts through November 2028, agency officials said. The 14 companies currently in the program can bid on NASA delivery services.
And, not to forget, but there is another issue that needs to be addressed - New spacesuits. If you're going to do something on the Moon, you need spacesuits," said The Aerospace Corporation's Dean Eppler, who has spent 20 years testing prototypes. The current calendar calls for delivery of a new spacesuit prototype to NASA in 2023 -- for testing.
More about NASA, artemis project, Commercial Lunar Payload Services, 14 vendors, moon landers
 
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