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NASA Calls for More Help from Private Companies to Reach the Moon in 2024

At the end of March 2019, vice president Mike Pence, speaking for the American administration, directed NASA to accelerate plans to return to the Moon and achieve this goal four year earlier than initially planned, in 2024. Taken by surprise, the agency quickly embraced the idea and set out to map the resources it has and the ones it needs to make this a reality.
NASA needs help building the the Human Landing System 1 photo
NASA has about three or four years to get all the hardware in shape before the mission is scheduled to leave for the Moon. The mission is to mark another premiere for human space exploration, as the agency intends of sending both a man and a woman to the planet’s satellite.

The first major component of the lunar mission, the launch rocket, is already in development. Called Space Launch System, or SLS, the rocket is the result of a joint effort of Boeing, United Launch Alliance, Northrop Grumman, and Aerojet Rocketdyne and is currently in final testing stages.

The other key element, the lunar lander, is one of the big unknowns of this revived space programs, a piece of hardware the agency was not in a hurry to start working on when the lunar return target was still 2028.

Looking more closely at the problem, NASA found it needs help creating the “ascent element of the Human Landing System” that will be used on the lunar mission. So at the beginning of April, it issued a pre-solicitation notice asking for proposals for this component.

As the month draws to an end, more is needed, it seems, and the space agency greatly expanded the scope of its solicitation, to cover “rapid development of an integrated human lunar landing system, including elements such as a descent element, ascent element, and transfer vehicle.”

According to the official announcement, the agency will work only with American companies for the “development, integration, and crewed demonstration of these elements.”

press release
 
 
 
 
 

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