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NASA has selected three companies for the supply of science and technology payloads to the lunar surface on robotic landers in the coming years.
The space agency announced Friday that it is working with the Pittsburgh company, Astrobotic, Houston on the basis of Intuitive Machines, and Edison, New Jersey company OrbitBeyond to provide NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS).
The deals are part of NASA’s Artemis program that focuses on the creation of new scientific discoveries and demonstrating new technologies support the purpose of the creation of a sustainable human presence on the Moon by 2028.
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Robot landers will deliver a range of scientific experiments and technology to the lunar surface in the coming years.
Artist’s impression of a commercial lander on the lunar surface.
NASA tweeted that Intuitive Machines has been proposed to fly as many as five loads Oceanus Procellarum, which the agency describes as “a scientifically intriguing dark spot on the Moon,” July 2021.
“We are thrilled and honored that our #NovaC lander won the selection by @NASA to assist in the return to the moon as part of Project #Artemis. #tothemoon in 2021!,” tweeted Intuitive Machines on Friday.
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NASA also announced that OrbitBeyond has proposed to fly as much as four loads of Mare Imbrium, a lava plain in the Moon’s craters, by September 2020.
“OrbitBeyond is pleased to have been selected by @NASA among the first commercial Moon landings and scientific cargo delivery of services for the #Artemis program,” the company wrote on Twitter. “Here is to go #BackToTheMoon.”
Astrobotic announced that it has been selected by NASA ‘ s CLPS program and provides 14 payloads to the Moon on her Peregrine Lander in July 2021, a contract worth $79.5 million. “We are proud to join NASA in the return of America to the Moon,” the company’s CEO, John Thornton, said in a statement.
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NASA tweeted that the cargo will be flown to Lacus Mortis, a large crater in the near side of the Moon.
As part of the Artemis effort, the U.S. wants the country the next man and the first woman on the Moon in 2024. The astronauts will also be the first man to set foot on the Moon’s south pole.
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Only 12 men, all Americans, have walked on the Moon.
July 20, 2019, to mark the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moon landing and moon missions continue to be a source of fascination.
A checklist that traveled to the surface of the Moon, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin recently sold at auction in New York for $62,500. In the same auction, three small Moon rocks brought back from space by the unmanned Soviet Luna-16 mission were sold for $855,000.
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Dec. 21, 2018 also marked the 50th anniversary of the momentous Apollo 8 launch. During a series of historical lunar orbits, NASA astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders became the first humans to see the far side of the Moon.
The Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers