NASA Reveals Commercial Partners for New Moon Landings

NASA Reveals Commercial Partners for New Moon Landings

NASA is going back to the moon, but it’s not doing it alone. The agency has just revealed its three commercial partners for phase one of the Artemis program. These US companies will help NASA deliver cargo and scientific instruments to the lunar surface in the next few years with the aim of supporting human landings and habitation by the mid-2020s.

There have been no human landings on the moon for decades, and the Artemis program aims to change that. Even the name harkens back to the last time humans ventured onto the lunar surface — in Greek mythology, Artemis is the sister of Apollo. The first part of the program, known as Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS), will consist of scientific instruments like spectrometers, magnetometers, and radio telescopes. There will also be devices to assist with navigation and landing for future missions.

The three companies that will help NASA deliver these payloads to the moon are Astrobotic of Pittsburgh, Intuitive Machines in Houston, and Orbit Beyond from Edison, New Jersey. Each of the three has its own contract with NASA valued in tens of millions of dollars: $79.5 million for Astrobotic, $77 million for Intuitive Machines, and $97 million for Orbit Beyond.

Astrobotic will fly as many as 14 missions to Lacus Mortis, a large crater on the near side of the Moon. NASA expects these missions to be underway by summer 2021. Intuitive Machines is slated for as many as five payloads to Oceanus Procellarum, the large dark patch on the moon’s Earth-facing side. Orbit Beyond will handle four scientific missions to Mare Imbrium, a lava plain inside the Imbrium Basin, one of the largest known craters in the solar system.

NASA hopes to have all the initial CLPS missions wrapped up in the next few years. They will gather important data on the moon, and demonstrate technologies that will help inform the next phase of the Artemis program: human spaceflight.

NASA currently hopes to have the first human landings in 2024. Following that, NASA will use projects like the Lunar Gateway station to enable a long-term human presence in orbit and on the surface of the moon. The long-delayed Space Launch System (SLS) is part of the Artemis program, and it has the potential to push back the second phase if testing doesn’t go as planned. NASA expects to test the SLS in 2020 with the first crewed launch in 2022.

Continue reading

Scientists Confirm the Presence of Water on the Moon
Scientists Confirm the Presence of Water on the Moon

Scientists have confirmed the discovery of molecular water on the moon. Is there any of it in a form we can use? That's less clear.

NASA Discovers Vital Organic Molecule on Titan
NASA Discovers Vital Organic Molecule on Titan

In the latest analysis, researchers from NASA have identified an important, highly reactive organic molecule in Titan's atmosphere. Its presence suggests the moon could support chemical processes that we usually associate with life.

Xbox Series X Review: The Living Room Gaming PC I’ve (Mostly) Always Wanted
Xbox Series X Review: The Living Room Gaming PC I’ve (Mostly) Always Wanted

The Xbox Series X launches in five days, and we're clear to talk about it. I've never done a console review before, so I went into this from the perspective of what I'm used to — PC gaming. Microsoft objectively has a lot to be proud of, here.

Intel Launches New Xe Max Mobile GPUs for Entry-Level Content Creators
Intel Launches New Xe Max Mobile GPUs for Entry-Level Content Creators

Intel has launched a new consumer, mobile GPU — but it's got a very specific use-case, at least for now.