In DepthSpace

NASA to pay private space companies for moon rides

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Science  23 Nov 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6417, pp. 875-876
DOI: 10.1126/science.362.6417.875

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Summary

Next month, almost a half-century since the United States last landed a spacecraft on the moon, NASA is expected to announce plans for a return. But the agency will just be along for the ride. Rather than unveiling plans for its own spacecraft, NASA will name the private companies it will pay to carry science experiments to the moon on small robotic landers. Under a program called Commercial Lunar Payload Services, NASA would buy space aboard a couple of launches a year, starting in 2021. The effort is similar to an agency program that paid private space companies such as Elon Musk's SpaceX to deliver cargo to the International Space Station. Scientists are lining up for a ride. Attendees at the annual meeting of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group in Columbia, Maryland, last week were eager to show NASA why their small experiments would be worthy hitchhikers on the landers.