Astrobotic Technology showed off its nearly complete lunar lander it is building for NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program and said the spacecraft remains on schedule to launch this year.
ESA announced April 13 it was further cutting ties with Russia by dropping plans to cooperate on a series of lunar missions, turning instead to NASA and other agencies.
NASA awarded a $77.5 million contract to Intuitive Machines Nov. 17 for the delivery of four payloads to the surface of the moon in 2024.
The European Space Agency has signed a contract with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) to be the anchor customer on a commercial lunar communications satellite that company is developing.
NASA currently has no plans to trade any of its Apollo-era lunar samples with those returned by China’s Chang’e-5 mission, although then agency’s chief scientist held out hope for such an exchange in the future.
Commercial lunar lander developer Intuitive Machines will launch its third lunar lander mission on a SpaceX Falcon 9, the same vehicle the company selected for its first two lander missions.
The first lunar lander mission by Intuitive Machines, which had been scheduled for launch late this year, has been delayed to early 2022 by its launch provider, SpaceX.
Astrobotic has signed a contract with SpaceX for the launch of its Griffin lunar lander, carrying a NASA lunar rover, on a Falcon Heavy in 2023.
SpaceX secured contracts Jan. 13 for the launches of a commercial lunar lander mission backed by NASA as well as a privately funded satellite to track methane emissions.
A Japanese company developing commercial lunar landers has opened an office in the United States in a bid to win more business from NASA’s Artemis program.
NASA has awarded more than $400 million in contracts to both demonstrate technologies needed for future lunar exploration and to send an ice-drilling payload to the south pole of the moon.
NASA’s inspector general warned in a recent report that the agency’s planetary science division was taking “undue risk” in its current approach to a commercial lunar transportation program.
NASA has selected Astrobotic to deliver a rover to the surface of the moon in late 2023 to prospect for water ice that could support future human missions.
German space company OHB is moving ahead with plans to launch a commercial lunar lander mission in cooperation with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) in late 2022 as it looks for government and commercial customers.
With the countdown on, it is a good time to reflect on the progress made by the NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services program and think about what is to come in the near future.