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Moon NASA Businesses Space The Almighty Buck Technology

NASA Signals Interest In Extending Commercial Spaceflight To the Moon (arstechnica.com) 24

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: NASA on Tuesday took a tentative step toward contracting with private companies to send scientific payloads to the surface of the Moon, beginning as early as next year. The space agency hasn't committed to funding these projects yet, but this may be a signal the agency is interested in a wider program to explore the Moon. The agency released a request for information (RFI) for a "Small Lunar Surface Payload" program that recognizes the ability of several US companies to develop robots to land on the Moon. The timing coincides with the Google Lunar XPRIZE, which requires entrants to land a small spacecraft on the surface of the Moon by the end of 2017. "NASA is asking for information about small instruments that could be placed on small lunar landers, and our interest is that we want to address our strategic knowledge gaps," said John Guidi, deputy director of the advanced exploration systems division within NASA's human spaceflight division. Those knowledge gaps -- which NASA is studying to increase the effectiveness and improve the design of robotic and human space exploration missions to the Moon -- include understanding the availability of resources, such as water ice, as well as better understanding how the lunar environment will affect human life and the ability to work and live on the lunar surface for long periods of time. By using low-cost private launchers and small, privately developed payloads, the space agency hopes to find answers to some of these research questions within its limited exploration budget. One of the private companies interested in providing delivery services, Moon Express, responded to the government's proposal with one of its own on Tuesday. The US company announced a program to provide $1.5 million in cash and services to support private payloads that NASA selects to fly to the Moon. Effectively, the company will be offering its services at a discount, providing up to $500,000 in funding for each instrument NASA chooses to fly on Moon Express' first three spacecraft.
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NASA Signals Interest In Extending Commercial Spaceflight To the Moon

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  • Might be useless.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by beheaderaswp ( 549877 ) * on Wednesday November 02, 2016 @03:51AM (#53197161)

    I hardly think that any of this will happen after the election this year. The country is going to have big problems internally and externally no matter who wins.

    As much as I think the space program is a "must have". There's no way it survives for very long after this election.

    It will be left to SpaceX and other commercial space companies to work it out. Or China. But the NASA is probably done.

    • NASA's job description preferably shouldn't include "running a space program" any more than NACA's description included "running an airline and cargo service".
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I knew an old guy at NASA from the Apollo days. He was high up in the organization and this was his #1 criticism, that it tried to be both a research and operational organization. He said they were very good in the r&d department, but flailed operationally and thought that they should get out of that business. He was a mentor and used to tell me many stories about the early days there. This was ten years before spacex existed.

    • I hardly think that any of this will happen after the election this year. The country is going to have big problems internally and externally no matter who wins.

      Every country has big problems all the time. That's always been true and always will be true. The difficulty of the problems is merely a matter of degree. Our current problems are no where near the worst our country has faced and certainly aren't anything close to an existential crisis like the Civil War or WWII or the Great Depression.

      As much as I think the space program is a "must have". There's no way it survives for very long after this election.

      Why? Because you don't like the candidates? NASA and our space program aren't going anywhere. They might not grow very fast but it isn't in any danger of going away eit

    • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )

      It will be left to SpaceX ...

      I was wondering what would happen to SpaceX if Trump is elected. I read someplace that Pad 39A was allocated to SpaceX for their big rocket in return for Elon Musk donated to Obama's re-election campaign. It is obvious a Trump administration will undo many Obama programs, and SpaceX lose Pad 39A? That sure would disrupt plans for Falcon Heavy.

  • What a crying shame. This agency is rapidly working its way towards extinction. Or at best, will become some Washington DC "space committee" that rubber-stamps private ventures into space. They might as well start selling off or spinning off their successful ventures now. Maybe they can sell naming rights to the KSC or MSFC too.

    So damn sad.

    • The point of NASA is to not become essentially a merchant marine for space. It put all of its budget into operations of space craft for decades and that has taken a toll on its science and research portions. There is nothing particularly noteworthy about it having a monopoly on space operations and that negatively impacts other options. NASA is a great R&D operation and does wonderful science. Why would it also be tasked with running operations when that is a function that has moved well into industry a

  • There's nothing worthwhile on the moon. It's just regolith (and space Nazi's living on the dark side). Why waste time on the moon? To Mars please..

"No matter where you go, there you are..." -- Buckaroo Banzai

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