The company's lunar lander, Peregrine, delivers payloads to the Moon for companies, governments, universities, non-profits, and individuals for $1.2 million per kilogram.
NASA equipment headed to the moon includes instruments to conduct new lunar science, pinpoint lander position, measure lunar radiation environment, assess how lander and astronaut activity affects the moon, and assist with navigation precision, according to the space agency. Those flights will be the first step of the agency's ambitious Artemis program to land humans on the moon in 2024.
NASA also hopes to accomplish basic astronomical research with CLPS experiments, such as learning about the history of the solar system, which is well-preserved on the moon's largely unchanging surface.
The space agency has selected the companies to provide commercial moon landing services.
Orbit Beyond will reach Mare Imbrium, a lava plain in a crater, by September 2020 while Intuitive Machines will land by July 2021 on Oceanous Procellarum, a dark spot on the Moon. Born and bred in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, one of America's advanced technology epicenters, Astrobotic is leading the world in lunar payload sales. An initial competition to develop small moon landers was announced in November 2018.
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"This is a new era for the moon", said John Thornton, Astrobotic CEO.
Orbit Beyond of Edison, New Jersey, will be awarded the highest sum of the three organizations: $97 million. The company's lander will carry as many as 14 payloads to Lacus Mortis, a large crater located on the near side of the Moon. Astrobotic, Intuitive Machines, and Orbit Beyond are the lucky winners. Intuitive Machines and Orbit Beyond are looking at SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, while Astrobotic has talked about putting its lander on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.
For today's big update, NASA will likely select one or more of these commercial companies to ship its science experiments to the moon.
Each partner is providing end-to-end commercial payload delivery services to NASA, including payload integration and operations, launch from Earth and landing on the surface of the Moon.
The first launch will happen in just over a year if they keep to schedule. With these commercial companies, NASA can accelerate its goal of sending astronauts back to the moon within the next five years.