NASA opens $2.6 billion in contract services for Moon to Mars missions

Tesla Motors CEO Musk talks at the Automotive World News Congress at the Renaissance Center in Detroit

Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said the moon is full of secrets and full of resources that can help supply human missions on the lunar surface, such as water.

NASA has big plans to go back to the moon, and it wants private companies to help them get there.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced Thursday that Draper and eight other United States companies, ranging from tiny startups to defense giant Lockheed Martin, will compete for $2.6 billion in NASA contracts.

NASA hopes that others will use these services as space travel becomes an endeavour accessible to private corporations.

NASA has provided few details about its announcement, but said "future partners" will be named. NASA will later compete individual task orders among the companies to fly specific payloads to the moon. This includes encouraging private investment where possible and shifting sights to lunar science, including the Gateway Lunar Orbital Platform and a human return to the Moon in the short term. The awards are all indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts, and it's not unusual for the actual value of such awards to be far less than the maximum value. Its team is comprised of space tech and support services for the Nasa programme. When asked by Marina Koren from the Atlantic if the videos of Musk's drug use was a red flag in terms of SpaceX's ability to handle the NASA mission, Bridenstine replied: "I think those were not helpful".

What? Is NASA going to the moon?

NASA, in 2014, gave both SpaceX and Boeing combined $6.8 billion to develop launch systems that could transport the agency's astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

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"The reality is, we're getting ready to launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil for the first time since 2011, and we want to make sure we have a cultural assessment, a safety assessment of each of our providers", he said.

"We're returning to the Moon, preparing to go beyond to Mars".

Rather than relying on NASA engineers to design the spacecraft, the space agency is publishing the capabilities it needs and requesting proposals from companies to provide those services. "We've had a number of conversations", he said.

Most of the nine companies approved for bidding say they will not be ready to begin operations until at least 2021.

A replica of the Mars InSight lander at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, showing instruments used to study the planet.

Draper is a not-for-profit which was involved with the Apollo Moon landings. The Directive called for NASA to return to the moon, prompting the Agency to send Americans to the lunar surface in preparation for visits to Mars.

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