After a year-long discussion about returning humans to the Moon, NASA is inviting proposals from the aerospace community. The space agency is asking companies to come up with designs for landers that can ferry astronauts to Moon. NASA intends to test out these carriers on Moon up to 2024. Later on, it aims to use those landers to carry people to the lunar surface by 2028. The news arrives a day after NASA announced the completion of the Opportunity mission. The space agency said it expects to return to the lunar surface by the end of current year. Jim Bridenstine, NASA administrator, and other high-level executives framed the plan during a press conference in Washington, DC.
Bridenstine said the agency priority is its speed to return to Moon. NASA wants to go return on the lunar surface as early as possible. The agency aims to have a reusable and sustainable technology that too with a speedy nature. Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said they wish to fly this year. Both men gave preference to speed in case of a new lunar landing system. They also notified that now the ball is in NASA’s commercial partners’ court. The actual launch dates will depend on the companies working potential and accomplishment of tasks. In November, NASA declared the list of commercial companies with whom it will contract under the project. The space agency will issue a formal request to companies for lander proposal in March. While NASA aims to award and set deals between May and July.
NASA has also started developing dozen of scientific payloads for the commercial flights. Zurbuchen said those payloads would be ready to ship until the end of 2019. In the upcoming week, NASA will unroll a list of scientific payload that is selected for the delivery. Bridenstine said NASA is open to both commercial ventures like Blue Origin, SpaceX Boeing, Lockheed Martin. NASA also reveals that it is open for other ways to carry humans to Moon. One of the latest alternatives is SpaceX’s future Starship rocket that could potentially launch from Earth, and land humans directly on Moon. In the end, NASA is looking forward to designs for landers as per its requirements.
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