The goal is to collect valuable scientific data as well as to encourage private-sector development beyond low-Earth orbit. The company has previously worked with NASA to develop Moon commercial cargo transporation capabilities and was the first private company authorized by the United States government to land on the Moon.
NASA's next lunar science experiments will arrive at the Moon via a spacecraft built by one of nine private companies - a first for one of the agency's science missions.
The space agency announced that it had selected nine U.S. companies to develop technologies for lunar deliveries launched from Earth.
Forward-looking: NASA promises to put astronauts on the moon once again, but first, its CLPS program needs to deliver payloads of equipment and instruments to the lunar surface.
The approach will allow NASA to cut costs, Bridenstine said. Those involved with CLPS underlined the spirit of cooperation required for complex programs such as this one to be successful. "It marks an important step in returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972 for long-term exploration and use".
The Commercial Lunar Payload Services contracts to be awarded by NASA have a combined maximum value of $2.6 billion during the next 10 years.
"It will reduce risk".
"Navigating humans to the moon and back almost 50 years ago was an incredibly proud moment for the engineers and scientists at Draper", CEO Kaigham Gabriel said.
If Elon Musk wants to blast Americans up into space, he's going to have to tone down his act.
All those willing to be paid by NASA to send cargo to the Moon will have to do so regularly as part of the new Commercial Lunar Payload Services. "If you want to learn the age of the solar system, you take samples from the moon and analyze them".
It also continues a trend at NASA toward public-private partnerships for exploration. (Proposals for instruments and technologies to study the moon are due in January.) They include payload integration and operations, and launching from Earth and landing on the moon.
Bridenstein's comments come in the wake of probes he ordered into workplace culture at SpaceX and Boeing, the two companies that have multimillion-dollar contracts with the space agency to fly its astronauts. Sean Mahoney, chief executive of Masten, called the award a long-awaited milestone for the company, which won part of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, part of NASA's Centennial Challenges prize program, almost a decade ago.