NASA has contracts with both Boeing and SpaceX. In addition, Orbit Beyond will use the lander developed by Team Indus, the India-based company that was one of the prize's finalists. NASA might also reinstate instruments from the canceled Resource Prospector lunar mining mission.
The companies will now have to compete against each other - and potentially additional companies in the future - for task orders to fly individual payloads, which NASA is still in the process of identifying.
Masten Space Systems has a fleet of lunar landers that it plans to send to the Moon in 2021 while Moon Express also also has a host of landers that vary in size and capability. The company is now developing a "Peregrine Lander" aimed at orbital and surface operations for any lunar destination.
"I will tell you that was not helpful", Bridenstine told assembled reporters at a press gathering at NASA HQ.
"I would say NASA is taking a risk but that's not a bad thing".
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The reviews are needed to "ensure the companies are meeting NASA's requirements for workplace safety, including the adherence to a drug-free environment", Bridenstine said, noting the scrutiny is "necessary and appropriate" for human space exploration, The Atlantic reported.
The initiative is part of Space Policy Directive 1, a year-old change in national space policy calling for a US -led coalition of commercial and global partners enabling human expansion across the solar system by first returning humans to the moon, which offers a closer and, therefore, lower-risk proving ground to Mars.
The exploration of the Moon will follow next, with the ultimate goal, a trip to Mars and back, to end the current stage of human expansion to space.
He said future bases would be global, and that he hoped the USA would lead the plans.
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.
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"We are excited to leverage our interplanetary lander designs and experience to help NASA build a new economy on and around the Moon, and beyond", Lisa Callahan, a Lockheed Martin vice president, said in a statement.
But he was cheered by the possibility that partnerships with the aerospace industry might make the Moon more accessible.
A major part of that renewed focus on the moon is establishing a commercial space infrastructure that could eventually reduce government costs while opening up new opportunities for business in low-Earth orbit and beyond.
The announcement came just three days after NASA landed a spacecraft on Mars.
SpaceX in particular has drawn scrutiny after founder Elon Musk took a hit of marijuana and drank whiskey on a podcast. More importantly, though, it acknowledges that CLPS is a risky endeavor, with many companies likely to suffer technical or financial failures.
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A resolution to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen will advance to the debate stage following a U.S. Senate vote on November 28, although the measure still faces an uphill battle in the U.S.