NASA Wants Ideas for Commercial Lunar Lander Instruments
On November 1, NASA announced that they are seeking information about the instruments that could be carried to the moon on future commercial spacecraft. They are expecting to carry the instrument with one company that is developing a lander and the company is also offering certain financial support for the development of the mission.
NASA is all set to gather information on technologies, instruments and other helpful tools which can be sent to the surface of the moon. According to Space News, the request for information (RIF) was released by NASA seeking the details regarding "small payloads that could be delivered to the moon as early as the 2017-2020 timeframe using U.S. commercial lunar cargo transportation service providers." The RFI was issued through the Advanced Explorations Systems Division of NASA.
As per a report published by Natural World News, a NASA official said in a statement, "Multiple US companies are developing robotic lunar landing capabilities and have expressed plans to provide commercial cargo delivery services to the Moon in the near future." He also added that information on lunar payloads that could be launched as early as 2017 would be valuable to NASA as it works to understand the potential role of the moon in future exploration activities.
The RFI does not mention about the specific companies but two American companies named Astrobotic and Moon Express are developing the commercial lunar landers. Both these firms are competing in the Google Lunar X Prize. NASA is only seeking ideas and not asking for any fund. An official stated that NASA is not planning to purchase any instrument or fly anything officially.
According to Space News, Moon Express announced its 'Lunar Scout' program, wherein the firm will provide $500000 each for up to three instruments and is ultimately selected by NASA to fly on its lunar lander. The payloads could fly as soon as 2017. Moon Express has earlier worked with NASA in the Lunar Cargo Transportation to promote the development of commercial lunar landers.