NASA announced on Thursday that they are offering $45 million contracts to solve risks for astronaut moon landing services.
The U.S. space agency is preparing to establish a regular cadence of trips to the Moon under its Artemis programme, so to help them agency fine-tune their approach, they will award firm fixed-price, milestone-based contracts of up to $45 million for commercial-led work.
NASA is seeking bids for work to mature designs and conduct technology and engineering risk-reduction tasks for their human landing system (HLS).
The system will ferry Artemis astronauts from lunar orbit to the surface and back. Prior to opening the call for commercial space lunar transportation, NASA is asking U.S. companies to hone HLS concepts and safety measures.
Firms awarded work under this research and development procurement, known as NextSTEP-2 Appendix N, will help NASA polish requirements for the future recurring services solicitation, which will secure regular crewed trips from their Gateway lunar orbiter to the moon's surface and back.
"We are priming U.S. industry to become reliable service providers in the lunar marketplace," said Greg Chavers, assistant deputy for Systems Engineering and Integration for human spaceflight at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Riding on American ingenuity, Artemis astronauts will explore new areas of the Moon, where we will unlock mysteries of the solar system for the benefit of all.
"NASA's goal is to enable the safest and lowest cost long-term approach to accessing the lunar surface, and to be just one of multiple customers purchasing services in the lunar transportation market."