"This is part of the president's Space Policy Directive 1, where he directed me, as the NASA administrator, to go to the moon and to go with commercial partners". CLPS is a multi-award contract worth $2.6 billion over the course of its 10 year performance period.
While Lockheed has been involved with NASA for years, others like Astrobotic Technology and Masten Space Systems are relatively new. The first could fly as early as next year, and NASA hopes to send two payloads every year for the next 10 years. The space program has also reportedly floated the idea of selling tourists tickets to space. "The innovation of America's aerospace companies, wedded with our big goals in science and human exploration, are going to help us achieve awesome things on the Moon and feed forward to Mars", Bridenstine said.
Including partners in their moon plans will allow NASA to launch more frequent, cost-effective trips to the moon, which means that more frequent experiments will be able to land, Bridenstine said.
"The U.S. return to the moon, and we will make it sooner than you think!" - the report says.
No man, or space company, is an island and a number of subcontractors will work with each company to help achieve their goals for Moon Express, these include Sierra Nevada Corporation, Paragon Space Development Corporation, Odyssey Space Research, LLC and NanoRacks, LLC, Houston.
NASA unveiled a set of new "Moon partnerships" with nine USA companies at a press conference Thursday afternoon.
One of the key elements for NASA's future missions to Mars will be to use the moon as the gateway.
“We are back!”: NASA shocked the world the good news
In addition to the specific companies chosen, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine also announced that the program running those contracts - the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program - is now part of the science section of NASA's bureaucracy, not the human exploration section. That will depend on the success of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program.
Tourists take pictures of a NASA sign at the Kennedy Space Center visitors complex in Cape Canaveral, Florida April 14, 2010.
The McCandless Lunar Lander is named after the late astronaut and former Lockheed Martin employee Bruce McCandless, who in 1984 performed the first free-flying spacewalk without a lifeline to the orbiting shuttle, using a jetpack built by the company.
The Trump administration has cited Moon missions a key element of the 2019 NASA budget.
"This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint, we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars and, perhaps, someday to many worlds beyond".
"Beginning with missions beyond low-Earth orbit, the United States will lead the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization, followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations".