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NASA Announces Commercial Partners On Moon-To-Mars Campaign

By Nicholas Gerbis
Published: Thursday, November 29, 2018 - 3:59pm
Updated: Thursday, November 29, 2018 - 7:05pm

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NASA's Exploration Campaign includes leadership in low-Earth orbit, in orbit around the Moon and on its surface, and at destinations beyond, including Mars.

NASA has picked nine U.S. companies to bid for as-yet unannounced contracts related to a return to the moon.

The selection, which is part of the agency's new direction under President Donald Trump's Space Policy Directive-1, included:

  • 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.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said new commercial and global partnerships will extend the agency's reach while spreading costs and reducing risk.

He emphasized the new campaign's science potential and rejected comparisons to similarly vague and largely unfulfilled plans announced by the Bush administration almost 15 years ago.

"This is not going to be Lucy and the football again; we're not planning to go to the moon and then we're going to not go to the moon."

NASA's Exploration Campaign seeks to pass the baton on low-Earth-orbit endeavors to the commercial sector, while also launching new robotic and human operations on and around the moon to support future human Mars missions.

It marks the first time U.S. policy calls for utilizing lunar natural resources, the legality of which remains hotly debated.