NASA Calls New Companies for Commercial Lunar Payloads

NASA hopes that commercial landers will soon ferry equipment and hardware to the lunar surface.
NASA hopes that commercial landers will soon ferry equipment and hardware to the lunar surface. (Image credit: NASA)

As NASA ramps up its efforts to land people on the moon by 2024, the agency has asked commercial companies to figure out how to bring heavier spacecraft to the lunar surface.

The latest call for opportunities within the Commercial Lunar Payload Services invites companies to discuss methods for landing hardware and equipment on the moon. NASA aims for this initiative to support future lunar exploration, including Artemis, its human spaceflight program Artemis. Responses are due on the Federal Business Opportunities website by Aug. 29.

"NASA anticipates the need for both small and mid-size lunar landers to enable a variety of science investigations, and larger technology demonstration payloads that will meet science objectives and human exploration goals," the agency said in a statement. "Future payloads could include rovers, power sources, science experiments, and technology to be infused into the Artemis program."

Related: 21 Most Marvelous Moon Missions of All Time

These new contracts have a combined maximum value of $2.6 billion with performance through 2028.Companies  looking to respond to NASA’s request must develop methods that account for variables  including indefinite delivery and indefinite quantity. In other words, their methods should theoretically be able to land an indefinite amount of hardware and equipment on the moon for the foreseeable future. The selected companies will join a group of nine other firms which have already been selected to provide services for the lunar surface with technologies that may additionally be used for eventual missions to the Red Planet. 

One of the companies previously tapped for lunar journeys, Orbit Beyond, dropped out of its deal to land one of the first three spacecraft on the moon in 2020, NASA announced this week. Orbit Beyond stated that it could not complete the work on time, and NASA decided to terminate the task order "on terms agreeable to both parties," Thomas Zurbuchen, the head of NASA's science mission directorate, said via Twitter on Monday. "Orbit Beyond, Inc. remains a CLPS contract awardee and may be eligible to compete for future opportunities," he added. 

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: