NASA’s fresh call for Moon Lander payload from the agency’s commercial partners

NASA published new calls for the agency’s partners in the private space industry to manufacture more lunar landers. According to NASA’s request for more scientific and trial Moon lander payloads, the agency anticipates to receive them later on in 2022. The agency plans on using the payloads to help make the path for NASA’s Artemis program that seeks to take humankind back to the Moon in 2024. After the successful Apollo Moon landing mission, NASA continues to roll out plans to return humankind to the Moon. The agency’s Artemis Project is one such program that continues to develop lunar lander equipment and spacecraft. 

Recently, NASA’s Search and Rescue office partnered with Australia’s SmartSat Cooperative Research Center to develop beacon technologies for astronauts on the Moon. The network is expected to facilitate the transmission of distress-related signals from the astronauts, whether on the Moon or in case something goes wrong during deployment of a rocket’s lunar payload. 

NASA announced a call for innovation to help the agency deal with dust particles’ messy problems on the Moon’s surface. The agency conducts a yearly idea competition to attract students from college and universities to ideate, prototype, test, and demonstrate resilient dust mitigation projects. 

Initially, NASA established its own Commercial Lunar Payload Service (CLPS) project to ensure a stable number of approved special services suppliers. The types of services include producing lunar landers capable of withstanding last-mile deployment of special lunar payloads. NASA’s CLPS comprises 14 corporations listed as vendors, to name some such as SpaceX, Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin, Firefly, and Astrobotic make up space companies that are eligible for bidding on contracts NASA creates to deliver specific payloads to the surface of the Moon.

NASA awarded contracts for two groups of payloads from the CLPS project, part of four scheduled launches under contract. Firstly, the planned launches are June 2021 Astrobotic’s Peregrine Mission One launch; secondly, October 2021 Intuitive Machines IM-1 inauguration; thirdly, December 2022 Mansten’s Mission One launch; lastly, Astrobotic’s VIPER mission set for 2023.

An in-depth look at the new payloads indicates that the list consists of different scientific instruments such as the lunar regolith, adhesion testing apparatus, X-ray imaging devices, a dust-resistant shield. 

NASA’s private lunar lander partners under the CLPS program are eligible to submit contract bids to conduct the new list of 10 trials and demonstrations; the plan is to deliver the stated instrument by 2022. The agency anticipates selecting a bid winner for the new contract award by late this year. 

To conclude, NASA’s effort to improve the life of humankind through space exploration is truly remarkable. NASA continues to plan more projects, programs, and idea competitions to improve their existing space technologies and expertise; with new challenges come fresh opportunities to develop a thing or two.