SpaceX and Blue Origin are among five U.S. companies added by NASA to the pool of vendors eligible to bid on moon delivery service, the space agency said Monday.
SpaceX, the private space exploration company owned by Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) CEO Elon Musk, and Blue Origin, owned by Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) chairman and CEO Jeff Bezos, were joined on the list by Ceres Robotics of Palo Alto, California; Sierra Nevada Corp. of Louisville, Colorado; and Irvine, California-based Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems Inc.
The naming of the five new companies to the list makes 14 companies now eligible to bid to take material to the moon through NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program.
NASA To The Moon By 2024
NASA is seeking to send a person to the moon again by 2024 as part of its Artemis program.
“Expanding the group of companies who are eligible to bid on sending payloads to the moon’s surface drives innovation and reduces costs to NASA and American taxpayers," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "We anticipate opportunities to deliver a wide range of science and technology payloads to help make our vision for lunar exploration a reality and advance our goal of sending humans to explore Mars.”
NASA earlier awarded contracts to three vendors to send science payloads to the moon in 2021. One of those, Orbit Beyond, backed out of its contract, saying it couldn't complete the work in time. Two other companies, Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines, remain scheduled to make deliveries under the program.
“As we build a steady cadence of deliveries, we’ll expand our ability to do new science on the lunar surface, develop new technologies, and support human exploration objectives," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate.
NASA said future payloads could include rovers, power sources, and science experiments.