Press Release

Commercial Lunar Payload Services Update

By SpaceRef Editor
July 30, 2019
Filed under , ,

NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services contract was designed for quick access to the Moon with science and technology payloads delivered by commercial partners. Since the project began, NASA has selected nine companies that are eligible to bid on specific task orders based on NASA priorities. The agency also has announced 12 payloads consisting of science instruments developed around the country at NASA centers. Early this month NASA selected 12 additional instruments being developed by outside organizations that would help the agency return to the Moon and have broader applications to Mars and beyond. Those payloads have not yet been assigned flights.

“We know that CLPS missions are going to be challenging for various reasons, and they may not always succeed,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, head of the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “We’re willing to accept some risk in order to get back to the Moon quickly, with commercial partners, and do exciting science and technology development with broad applications.”

While the first three companies selected to carry payloads to the Moon were announced in May, one of them, Orbit Beyond, Inc., has informed NASA of internal corporate challenges that will prevent the timely completion of its awarded task order. As a result, Orbit Beyond requested to be released from the task order agreement. NASA made a contract administration decision to comply with OBI’s request and, as a result, terminated the task order effective July 28, 2019 on terms mutually agreeable to both parties. Orbit Beyond remains a CLPS contract awardee and may be eligible to compete for future CLPS opportunities. 

NASA’s selections of the two other vendors (Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines) are not impacted by this decision. NASA is still on track to having our first science payloads delivered to the lunar surface in 2021. Astrobiotic has proposed to fly as many as 14 payloads to Lacus Mortis, a large crater on the near side of the Moon, by July 2021. Intuitive Machines has proposed to fly as many as five payloads for NASA to Oceanus Procellarum, a scientifically intriguing dark spot on the Moon, by July 2021.

The CLPS program continues to formulate additional requests for task order proposals to expand the scope of NASA payloads requiring transportation services to the lunar surface in advance of human return. CLPS remains strong and the project includes diverse partners helping NASA to get to the lunar surface quickly and efficiently.

SpaceRef staff editor.