Next US moon landing will be by private companies, not NASA
NASA officials said the research will help get astronauts back to the moon more quickly. (Pavel Golovkin, ASSOCIATED PRESS)
America's next moon landing will be made by private companies — not NASA.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced Thursday that nine US companies will compete to deliver experiments to the lunar surface. The space agency will buy the service and let private industry work out the details on getting there, he said.
The goal is to get small science and technology experiments to the surface of the moon as soon as possible. The first flight could be next year; 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing.
"We're going at high speed," said Thomas Zurbuchen, head of NASA's science mission directorate, which will lead the effort.
NASA officials said the research will help get astronauts back to the moon more quickly and keep them safer once they're there. The initial deliveries likely will include radiation monitors, as well as laser reflectors for gravity and other types of measurements, according to Zurbuchen.