The nine U.S. companies will compete for a percentage of Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contracts of almost $2.6 billion (€2.2 billion) over the next 10 years. Now Draper is in a new, homegrown space race to deliver unmanned craft to the lunar surface.
Meanwhile, NASA is planning to go back to the moon too and has recently partnered with nine private firms to help it achieve its goal. SpaceX plans to start transporting astronauts to the orbiting lab next year, as does Boeing.
"What they bring to their consortium is tried and tested navigation systems", said Chad Anderson, chief executive of Space Angels, a NY investment firm that finances space-oriented startups. The company will provide any number of contributions towards NASA's mission to the Moon.
"I would say NASA is taking a risk but that's not a bad thing".
NASA has announced that nine United States space companies are now eligible to bid on its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contracts.
NASA announced Thursday that it would be partnering with private companies to send probes and eventually humans to the moon.
Almost 50 years after Neil Armstrong became the first human to step onto the surface of the Moon, President Trump signed a mandate to send USA astronauts back to the mysterious orb.
Using commercial services, NASA will be able to "accelerate a robotic return to the moon, with upcoming missions targeted for two to three years earlier than previously planned". "We call it the McCandless Lunar Lander", Hopkins said.
Notre Dame lunar geologist Clive Neal, who is emeritus chairman of the independent Lunar Exploration Analysis Group, was cautiously optimistic about the prospects for science under the CLPS program.
"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 Lisa Callahan, vice president and general manager for Commercial Civil Space at Lockheed Martin.
But he was cheered by the possibility that partnerships with the aerospace industry might make the Moon more accessible.
In this approach, NASA would just be one of many customers, Bridenstine said.
Nasa has not said anything about the condition of the other instruments on board, which include a French-made seismometer to study Marsquakes and a German self-hammering mole to measure heat's escape from the planet.
Orbit Beyond, a spacecraft company, is expected to fly its spacecraft to the Moon by 2020.
"The goal of the lunar programs is to ensure national interests at the new space turn".
The NASA boss said he wanted a review of Boeing and SpaceX even before Musk's appearance on the podcast, calling the reviews a "necessary and appropriate step when you're launching humans on rockets". Neither company is among those selected for CLPS eligibility.