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.
NASA is not the only one going to the moon. Those flights will be the first step of the agency's ambitious Artemis program to land humans on the moon in 2024. The equipment will be used to carry out scientific investigations and demonstrate advanced technologies so that astronauts can land on the Moon by 2024, the space agency added.
NASA said it will decide exactly which experiments to send on the landers by the end of summer 2019.
Astrobiotic plans to take off in June 2021, landing the following month in Lacus Mortis, a large crater on the moon's near side.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the selection of the three commercial landing service providers was a huge step forward for the lunar exploration plans.
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NASA also announced that OrbitBeyond has proposed flying as many as four payloads to Mare Imbrium, a lava plain in one of the Moon's craters, by September 2020.
"I think it's going to create a new era, a new ecosystem for commercial companies to really explore space", Kam Ghaffarian, executive chairman of Intuitive Machines, said of the contract awards and the Artemis program. Intuitive Machines has Boeing as a strategic partner for its lunar lander program.
The advanced LEGO set features a detailed replica of the Eagle lunar lander with separate ascent and descent stages, plus a depiction of the lunar surface with crater, footprints and a US flag, Apollo 11 Lunar lander nameplate and golden elements.
- Celebrate space exploration with this highly detailed display model.
The first launch will happen in just over a year if they keep to schedule.
While the relatively low-priced missions will lack the multiple layers of redundancy typical of NASA planetary missions, Clarke said "I have high confidence in these three companies". While challenges and setbacks can be expected, "I have no doubt that we'll be seeing successful landings on the moon within the next two years".