A new lunar space race

Jadon Khor, News Reporter

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, abbreviated to NASA, officially announced a space contest, picking nine companies on Nov. 29 to develop technologies with the capacity to reach and explore the moon. The agency using $2.6 billion in contracts to incentivize these companies to do so.
The contest builds on the Trump administration’s Space Policy Directive 1 passed last December, which calls on NASA to begin sending American astronauts to the moon for preparation for the projected 2030 Martian surface mission.
As part of its Commercial Lunar Payload Services conference, NASA compiled a list of nine participants from more than 30 interested companies, including SpaceX and Blue Origin, composing of Orbit Beyond in Edison, New Jersey, Moon Express in Cape Canaveral, Lockheed Martin in Littleton,, Colorado Masten Space Systems in Mojave, California, Astrobotic Technology in Pittsburgh, Deep Space Systems also in Littleton, Colorado, Firefly Aerospace in Cedar Park, Texas, Draper in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Intuitive Machines in Houston, Texas.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said at a press conference at the conference that the first shuttles will launch next year, and last for the next 10 years. According to the bid requests, companies could only qualify if they were willing to deliver their first missions by the end of 2021.
By 2022, the agency says they expect new space station labs that will orbit the moon to act as pit stops for other outer space missions, because the cost of refueling in low gravity is much cheaper than that of Earth’s surface.
Bridenstine said “these are not expensive missions,” stressing the economic costs of the missions as to why they chose private companies instead of the federal agency. “Our goal us to learn as much as we can possibly learn and help this fledging industry develop here in the United States.”
Building on recent space interests publicly and federally, this announcement comes off of NASA’s recent success of their Martian spacecraft landing Nov. 26, where scientists used their craft to dig in search of previous life on the planet, SpaceX’s ambitions to send human colonists to Mars, and the discovery of the interstellar asteroid Oumuamua.