NASA signs development lunar module development contracts with private companies
It seems that a return to the moon is becoming a more realistic project than the first man’s visit to Mars. Many officials in the United States, as well as the president of this country, are talking about the fact that the Moon is more priority than Mars,so NASA, as a state organization, is gradually adapting its programs to current requirements and trends.
Since the landing on the natural satellite of our planet with a high degree of probability will be carried out in the next few years, it is necessary to develop all the necessary devices and transport elements that will make such a journey possible. In particular, we need a reliable landing module that will carefully lower the crew of space travelers to the surface of the moon.
At the end of this week, the agency announced that it would enter into contracts for the development of a landing module with private companies. Already selected nine applicants who will compete for the right to get a very lucrative contract. It is about two billion dollars.
The head of NASA said that the agency plans to deploy a reliable infrastructure that allows you to travel to the moon and back. Donald Trump, who has declared his full support for the new lunar program, rests on this .
As for the funds allocated to the "lunar" contracts, then we are talking about $ 2.6 billion, which must be mastered in 10 years. Flights to the moon should begin as early as next year. Each year should be carried out two lunar flights, for 10 years it is 20 flights there and back.
NASA did not develop the necessary elements of travel independently, entrusting it to third-party companies. Perhaps soon humanity will enter the "lunar era" by sending teams of space miners to the moon, which will extract useful metals and isotopes.
It is worth noting that the task of landing on the moon is quite complicated. For example, the multimillion Google Lunar X Prize program, which aims to send a small rover to the moon, remained unfinished. It started in 2007, several companies and organizations fought for the main prize of $ 20 million. As a result, no one won, and the program, as far as can be judged, was simply curtailed.
Relatively young crater on the moon. Source: NASA / GSFC, Arizona State University
It seems that NASA is planning to repeat the success of the contract with SpaceX. Ilon Mask has achieved the conclusion of the contract with the agency and now SpaceX is engaged in a cab of spacecraft - loads (and soon people) are sent to the ISS and back. Both sides, as far as can be judged, are satisfied with the cooperation.
The lunar program provides for the creation of a landing module, which was discussed above. But it is small, so people, most likely, with its help will not be sent to the surface of the Moon. But such platforms will be able to conduct certain studies on Mars, to deliver small loads, including those that will help to better explore the moon. In particular, the regions bordering the south and north poles of the moon - there are craters, at the bottom of which there is frozen water.
It is these places that the scientists will explore - after all, the water will be needed by future colonists, who will go to the Earth satellite in a short time.
The list of companies with which agreements are concluded includes 9 names:
- Astrobotic Technology of Pittsburgh;
- Deep Space Systems of Littleton, Colo .;
- Draper of Cambridge, Mass .;
- Firefly Aerospace of Cedar Park, Tex .;
- Intuitive Machines of Houston;
- Lockheed Martin of Littleton, Colo .;
- Masten Space Systems of Mojave, Calif .;
- Moon Express of Cape Canaveral, Fla .;
- Orbit Beyond of Edison, NJ
Everyone has a test version of the technology, that is, a landing platform, but no one has completed the development - the samples are “adjusted.” Most projects most likely will not be completed until 2021.
NASA understands that with this form of partnership there are risks. Therefore, the leadership will not be too worried if someone does not get to the finish line. But if one or several companies create a reliable lender, the game is worth the candle - money was not spent in vain.