NASA is returning to the Moon with commercial and international partners
as part of an overall agency Exploration Campaign in support of Space
Policy Directive 1. It all starts with robotic missions on the lunar
surface, as well as a Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway for astronauts in
space beyond the Moon.
Right now, NASA is preparing to purchase new small lunar payload
delivery services, develop lunar landers, and conduct more research on
the Moon’s surface ahead of a human return. And that long-term
exploration and development of the Moon will give us the experience for
the next giant leap – human missions to Mars and destinations beyond.
The agency released a draft Request for Proposals April 27, encouraging
the U.S. commercial space industry to introduce new technologies to
deliver payloads to the Moon. This request for Commercial Lunar Payload
Services (CLPS) will further expand efforts to support development and
partnership opportunities on the lunar surface.
Using these services, the agency will accelerate a robotic return to
Moon, with upcoming missions targeted for two to three years earlier
than previously planned. NASA intends to award multiple contracts for
these services through the next decade, with contract missions to the
lunar surface expected to begin as early as 2019, and with a company’s
first delivery no later than Dec. 31, 2021.