Blue Origin will participate in the program for the delivery of small cargoes NASA to the moon


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Blue Origin will participate in the program for the delivery of small cargoes NASA to the moon

The American Space Agency has expanded the list of companies participating in the program for the commercial delivery of goods to the moon CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services).

For the first time, NASA's contracts for the delivery of scientific instruments to the moon were distributed in May 2019. The contracts were awarded to three companies developing small moon landing gear – Astrobotic, Intuitive Machines, and OrbitBeyond. Astrobotic was a participant in the Google Lunar X-PRIZE contest, which ended in failure: none of the private teams were able to launch their moon rover and fulfill the other conditions of the contest. Astrobotic, which was considered the favorite, withdrew from the competition back in December 2016, deciding to concentrate on finding commercial customers for its lander. Under the CLPS contract, Astrobotic will launch its Peregrine lander in June 2021 as a back-loading on the Atlas V launch vehicle. Landing is scheduled for July. The device will deliver to NASA's Death Lake on the Moon up to 14 NASA devices, for which Astrobotic will receive $ 79.5 million.

Texas-based Intuitive Machines intends to launch its Nova-C landing station in July 2021 with the Falcon 9 rocket. Landing on the Moon in the Ocean of Storms or Sea of ​​Clarity will take place in 6.5 days. The device will carry four scientific devices. The amount of the contract is $ 77 million.

The third CLPS contract went to OrbitBeyond, which later withdrew from the program due to legal problems with the need to import technology from India to the United States.

In the fall of 2019, it became known that NASA wants to expand the list of CLSP members. Exiting the OrbitBeyond program is just one of the reasons for this decision. At the end of 2022, NASA intends to launch the VIPER exploration lunar rover at the south pole of the moon. The agency does not have its own lander for this purpose, and Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines do not have sufficient carrying capacity.

On November 18, NASA issued a press release on the inclusion of five more companies in the CLSP program: Blue Origin, Ceres Robotics, Sierra Nevada Corporation, SpaceX and Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems. This does not mean that they will all deliver NASA cargo to the moon. In total, 14 companies are currently participating in the program, but only two have contracts for the delivery of goods. However, new companies will participate in the next round of contract allocation.

Blue Origin unveiled its Blue Moon lunar lander this May. It has sufficient carrying capacity for the VIPER lunar rover, and therefore Blue Origin can be considered the main contender for the next contract.

Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems is known as a microsatellite developer. Its representatives cannot yet say when their lunar lander will be ready. Ceres Robotics, another small company, plans to build its lightweight machine by 2023. Sierra Nevada Corporation promises to make a lunar landing platform by 2022, but does not provide any preliminary information about its characteristics.

Finally, SpaceX offers NASA to use the promising superheavy reusable Super Heavy / Starship system. According to company president Gwen Shotwell, SpaceX is ready to begin delivering cargo to the moon in 2022.

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