Credit: NASA



Nine U.S. companies are now eligible to bid on NASA delivery services to the lunar surface through Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contracts, as one of the first steps toward long-term scientific study and human exploration of the Moon and eventually Mars.







And the NASA selected private Moon winners today are (drumroll):

Astrobotic Technology, Inc.: Pittsburgh
Deep Space Systems: Littleton, Colorado
Draper: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Firefly Aerospace, Inc.: Cedar Park, Texas
Intuitive Machines, LLC: Houston
Lockheed Martin Space: Littleton, Colorado
Masten Space Systems, Inc.: Mojave, California
Moon Express: Cape Canaveral, Florida
Orbit Beyond: Edison, New Jersey

Early company comments

Draper returns to the Moon, enables the future of exploration; Draper team awarded up to $2.6B Commercial Lunar Payload Services contract

CAMBRIDGE, MA – Nov. 29, 2018 – The first time NASA wanted to send humans to the moon it turned to Draper to develop the guidance, navigation and control system that made that possible. As NASA prepares to embark for the moon once more, it has selected a team led by Draper to once again support its mission needs. The Draper team was awarded an Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract vehicle, today to support NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Service (CLPS) initiative.

“Navigating humans to the moon and back nearly 50 years ago was an incredibly proud moment for the engineers and scientists at Draper,” said Draper President and CEO Kaigham J. Gabriel. “And that legacy continues as we return to the moon and beyond with CLPS.”

The Draper team’s uncrewed lander—dubbed Artemis-7—will complete sample collection and return, demonstrate the use of in-space resources and reduce risk for the production of human landers. These missions pave the way for a human return to the moon, as well as enable human exploration of Mars and beyond.

Draper’s Artemis-7
Credit: Draper

“The Artemis-7 design will fly multiple times before its first CLPS mission,” explained Seamus Tuohy, principal director of space systems, Draper. “Our lander design has secured substantial private funding. When you combine those investments with the extensible capability of the team and our history of delivering humans to the moon and bringing them back, we’re positioned well to meet NASA’s mission needs.”

The Draper-led team includes General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems; ispace, inc.; and Spaceflight Industries. Draper will provide payload operations, the flight computer, and the guidance, navigation and control systems for the lunar lander, as well as overall management and coordination of the team; General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems will carry out the lunar lander manufacturing, assembly integration and testing in the United States; ispace will act as the design agent for the lunar lander and mission operations, as well as provide high-frequency rideshare opportunities; and Spaceflight Industries Inc. will orchestrate launch services, including integration, mission management, launch and range documentation and pre- and post-operations.

The Artemis-7 derives its name from the Greek goddess of the moon and twin sister of Apollo. The 7 signifies Draper’s seventh lunar landing.

McCandless lunar lander

Lockheed Martin will apply its expertise in interplanetary spacecraft to a new program designed to deliver commercial payloads to the surface of the Moon. NASA announced today they have selected Lockheed Martin’s McCandless Lunar Lander to provide payload delivery services as part of the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contract.

McCandless Lunar Lander
Credit: Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin’s lander design builds on four decades of experience engineering deep space missions, including Mars landers. The McCandless Lunar Lander is based on the proven design of the InSight lander – which just touched down on the Martian surface on Monday, Nov. 26 – and the Phoenix lander – which successfully arrived at Mars in May 2008.

“We are excited to leverage our interplanetary lander designs and experience to help NASA build a new economy on and around the Moon, and beyond,” said Lisa Callahan, vice president and general manager for Commercial Civil Space at Lockheed Martin. “Lockheed Martin has built more interplanetary spacecraft than all other U.S. companies combined, including four successful Mars landers. With our expertise on Orion and the NextSTEP lunar habitat, we can maximize the value of CLPS for lunar science operations as well as the path forward to tomorrow’s reusable human lander.”

The McCandless Lunar Lander is capable of transporting large payloads weighing hundreds of kilograms – including stationary scientific instruments, deployable rovers, or even sample return vehicles – to the surface of the Moon. The lander uses a proven propulsive landing approach that relies upon on-board radars and a set of rocket thrusters firing 10 times a second to slow to just five mph before touching down. Once on the lunar surface, the lander can provide power, communications and thermal management for sophisticated payloads.

“We’re no stranger to commercial space business models, having built more than 100 commercial satellites and launched numerous Atlas and Titan commercial payloads,” said Callahan. “On our last 10 interplanetary missions for NASA, we delivered on or ahead of schedule, and on budget. We want to assure payload customers who select Lockheed Martin can be confident that we’ll deliver on-time and on-budget.”

Credit: NASA

The McCandless Lunar Lander is named in honor of the late Bruce McCandless, a NASA astronaut and longtime Lockheed Martin employee who was a pioneer in space exploration. McCandless is best known for conducting the first ever untethered spacewalk using the Lockheed Martin-built Manned Maneuvering Unit during a flight on the space shuttle. He originally joined the astronaut corps during the Apollo program and served as the voice of mission control for Neil Armstrong’s famous moonwalk. After retiring from NASA he was instrumental in the design of exploration technology and training the next generation of planetary explorers during his tenure at Lockheed Martin.

Poised to serve

Astrobotic has been competitively selected to be a delivery provider of NASA payloads to the Moon on the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contract. Through CLPS, Astrobotic will be a 10-year provider of delivery services for NASA payloads to the Moon. The selection was announced today by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander will carry payloads to the Moon for NASA through the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program.
Credit: Astrobotics

As part of NASA’s plan to return to the Moon, CLPS is leveraging existing private sector services like Astrobotic to deliver their cargo shipments to the Moon.  CLPS will enable the first NASA payloads to be soft-landed on the lunar surface since the Apollo Program, and open a new era in science and exploration with regular commercial deliveries of uncrewed payload to the lunar surface.

“We are humbled by this selection to return America to the Moon.  Astrobotic has steadily developed our lunar delivery service with a methodical, technically sound lander program validated by world-class company partners like ULA, Dynetics, and Airbus DS.  Our focus on delivering for the payload market has enabled our world-leading position with 12-signed deals to date.  It is gratifying to now receive this validation from the most accomplished space agency in the world.” said Astrobotic CEO John Thornton.  “We are eager to add NASA to our existing manifest of commercial customers, and get America back on the surface as soon as possible.”

Under the CLPS program, Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander is poised to serve as America’s workhorse robotic lander, delivering up to 265 kilograms of payload on each mission.  With Peregrine’s robust delivery capacity, the lunar surface is open to NASA and the commercial market for resource prospecting, planetary science investigations, technology maturation, and other activities.  Robotic CLPS payload deliveries on Peregrine will be a vital bridge to a future human return to the Moon, and an important capability in NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration campaign.  By working in concert with NASA’s Gateway, Orion, and Space Launch System, Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander will help enable a dynamic public-private future on the Moon.

“This is a pivotal moment for our company and most importantly, our country.  Astrobotic was built for this opportunity, and we stand ready to lead America back to the Moon.” said Thornton.

Firefly: Order award

Firefly Aerospace Beta Launch Vehicle and Lunar Lander: With this initial CLPS competitive procurement, NASA has made multiple awards of Firm-Fixed Price (FFP) Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts with the ability to issue Firm-Fixed Price (FFP) task orders.

Firefly Aerospace Beta Launch Vehicle and Lunar Lander
Credit: Firefly

The contracts will have an effective ordering period of 10 years from the contract’s effective date of January 2, 2019 or sooner. The maximum cumulative value of all CLPS task order awards is $2.6 billion over the life of the contract. The multiple CLPS contract award winners are now eligible to compete for specific task order awards including the first commercially provided NASA science payload delivery mission to the Moon. The start of the competition for the first CLPS full lunar mission task order award is expected to be announced by NASA in the near future.

“This contract award recognizes Firefly’s viable technical approach to deliver NASA science payloads and other commercial cargo to the lunar surface, along with the viability of its business plan and financial resources to develop Firefly’s CLPS system,” said Firefly CEO Dr. Tom Markusic. “In conjunction with our Beta launch vehicle and our partnership with Intuitive Machines, Firefly will provide an integrated lunar services offering, from the launch pad to the surface of the Moon. We are honored to partner with NASA in an extraordinary effort that will broaden humanity’s knowledge of the cosmos and inspire a new generation of space entrepreneurs.”


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