NASA has actually opened up a call for companies to join their nine existing Commercial Lunar Payload Service (CLPS) providers. This is a group that they chose back in November 2018 after a similar solicitation on proposals. In the CLPS program, NASA is actually buying space aboard future commercial lunar landers that will deliver to the surface of the Moon about their future research, demonstration projects and is still in search of more providers who will sign up like a lunar lander provider. The contracts are of billions of dollars and will extend up to the year 2028.
The list of the nine providers that were chosen back in 2018 includes the deep space system, Astrobotic Technology, Lockheed Martin, Masten Space Systems, Moon Express and so much more. Another thing about NASA is that they are in search for the said companies and when there are any new firms being added to the list due to the second call for submission, delivering both the small and the mid-sized lunar landers and have the aim in delivering different things like rovers, payloads and to batteries that are specific to the future Artemis missions and having the aim to help establish a more permanent human presence.
Another thing is that NASA has the goal to build stable providers that will help their Moon ambitions in various ways, which includes providing redundancy and in offering a more competitive field for them to open up more bids on specific payloads and in gaining more price advantages.
At the end of May, NASA has then announced the award of more than $250 million on its contracts for their specific payload delivery mission which had been intended to take place by the year 2021. The three companies that had been chosen from the list of the nine providers were the OrbitBeyond, Astrobotic, and Intuitive Machines. It is however the OrbitBeyond that told the agency that it’s not able to fulfill on the contract that’s awarded because of the internal corporate challenges and had backed out of the contract with the permission of NASA.
Even with how fast one of the providers had exited on one of the few contracts that’s awarded already and the significant demand, there’s going to be for commercial lander service if the Artemis ambitions of NASA matches up closely with the vision. It is also a good idea for the agency in building out the stability of service providers.
The space agency has originally required the landers to be one that can be refueled and one that is reusable. NASA however said that some of the would-be providers have problems with such requirements.
The plan of NASA also needs the landers to be one that’s compatible with the other elements of the lunar mission architecture. This actually means that the astronauts who will be bound for the moon are going to be launched from Earth through the Orion spaceship that’s atop the Space Launch System rocket. Another thing is that the lander is going to be launched separately on the commercial rockets and is made available for the use of every crew at the Gateway of NASA’s lunar-orbiting outpost.