NASA is working with several American companies to deliver science and technology to the lunar surface through the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative.
These companies of varying sizes will bid on delivering payloads for NASA, including payload integration and operations, launching from Earth and landing on the surface of the Moon.
Under Artemis, commercial deliveries beginning in 2023 will perform science experiments, test technologies and demonstrate capabilities to help NASA explore the Moon and prepare for human missions.
CLPS contracts are indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts with a cumulative maximum contract value of $2.6 billion through 2028.
NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative allows rapid acquisition of lunar delivery services from American companies for payloads that advance capabilities for science, exploration or commercial development of the Moon. Investigations and demonstrations launched on commercial Moon flights will help the agency study Earth’s nearest neighbor under the Artemis approach.
Initially welcoming nine U.S. companies to its CLPS project in November 2018, NASA added five more vendors to the project a year later, bringing the total number of eligible vendors to 14. As science, technology, and human exploration requirements for payloads develop, the current pool of CLPS contractors will be eligible to bid for surface task orders.
Individual task order awards cover end-to-end commercial payload delivery services, including payload integration, mission operations, launch from Earth, and landing on the surface of the Moon. In addition to the NASA payloads aboard, companies are also encouraged to fly commercial payloads.
- Astrobotic will deliver NASA payloads to Sinus Viscositatis, a mare unit adjacent to the Gruithuisen Domes, a geologic enigma.
- Intuitive Machines will deliver NASA payloads to a site near the Malapert A crater in the south polar region.
- Intuitive Machines will deliver the agency’s PRIME-1 drill to the lunar South Pole.
- Astrobotic will deliver the agency’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, to the lunar South Pole.
- Firefly Aerospace will deliver a suite of payloads to Mare Crisium, a large, dark, basaltic plain on the Moon that filled an ancient asteroid impact.
- Intuitive Machines will deliver research, including science investigations and a technology demonstration, to Reiner Gamma, a magnetic anomaly known as a lunar swirl located on the lunar near side.
- Draper will deliver science investigations to Schrödinger Basin, a large lunar impact crater on the far side of the Moon close to the South Pole.
- Firefly will deliver two agency payloads to the lunar far side and deliver a communications and data relay satellite into lunar orbit, which is an ESA (European Space Agency) collaboration with NASA.
Science experiments and technology demonstrations delivered to the lunar surface as part of Artemis will help lay the foundation for human exploration on the Moon. Through Artemis, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon, paving the way for a long-term, sustainable lunar presence, and serving as a stepping stone for future astronaut missions to Mars. Artemis I launched in 2022 and its subsequent test flight with crew is scheduled to occur in 2024 in advance of NASA sending humans to the surface of the Moon no earlier than 2025.
Additional payload information
In 2019, NASA identified agency and external science payloads that will fly on CLPS flights. Through the agency’s Payloads and Research Investigations on the Surface of the Moon (PRISM) call for proposals, NASA selected three new scientific investigations in June 2021 and two science instrument suites in June 2022 to be delivered to the Moon via CLPS flights. Future payloads also could include other rovers, power sources, and science experiments, including the technology demonstrations to be infused into the Artemis approach. The agency expects to issue a regular series of task order proposal requests to expand the scope of NASA payloads requiring transportation services to the lunar surface ahead of human landings.