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NASA to help companies reach the moon

Posted on Wednesday, 5 February, 2014 | Comment icon 22 comments

One of several contenders for the Lunar X Prize. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 90.5 WESA
The space agency has renewed its efforts to aid private companies in the commercial race to the moon.
While NASA has no plans to send humans back to the moon any time soon, the space agency has recently launched a new initiative to help private firms build robotic spacecraft capable of landing on the lunar surface.

Known as CATALYST ( Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown ), the programme aims to offer assistance to companies in exchange for the rights to use the lander designs developed as a result of the partnership.

With several private companies from across the world competing to become the first to land a spacecraft on the moon however, there are concerns that NASA could skew the results by giving American firms an advantage over international ones.

"It's good news for the American moon commercial ventures and the American Google Lunar X Prize teams. Not so much for the rest," the Barcelona Space Team, a Spanish entrant in Google's Lunar X Prize competition, wrote on their website. "We applaud NASA's efforts to support private initiatives to develop commercial robotic exploration, but we wonder whether this unbalances the competition in favour of the American teams."

Source: New Scientist | Comments (22)

Tags: NASA, moon, lunar

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #13 Posted by ancient astronaut on 5 February, 2014, 20:49
Apollo 18 reference, sweet. That movie was better than what the "critics" made it out to be. I liked it.
Comment icon #14 Posted by coolguy on 6 February, 2014, 4:26
Maybe, we can get people back on the moon
Comment icon #15 Posted by ColoradoParanormal on 6 February, 2014, 4:29
I believe that America is FAR overdue for a return trip to the moon. I also believe we need to divert funds from the Mars program(s) towards more advanced Moon programs. I personally believe financially, logically, and technically building a manned permanent lunar station that will eventually evolve into a gateway to the stars is a more pertinent task for humanity.
Comment icon #16 Posted by skookum on 6 February, 2014, 8:15
I agree, moonbase first then Mars.
Comment icon #17 Posted by Eldorado on 6 February, 2014, 12:28
The Clangers are too dangerous. Best leaving them alone.
Comment icon #18 Posted by Drayno on 7 February, 2014, 19:43
It seems like a logical step, I agree. But I can't help but wonder what sort of an impact a lunar base would have on the moon? Maybe even its orbit or gravitational effects on the Earth? I have no scientific claim to support this idea whatsoever; it's just a thought that occurred to me. I don't think we should take funds from any activity we have on Mars. It's a very historical development to be examining the properties of another planet. You can examine the moon all you want, but when you study another planet it gives more insight into how incredible our own is. And how it m... [More]
Comment icon #19 Posted by Peter B on 7 February, 2014, 22:52
No, it won't have any measurable effect. Assume that a base had a mass of, say, 10,000 tons (that's about 3 times the mass of a full loaded Saturn V rocket). By contrast, the mass of the Moon is about 73,000,000,000,000,000,000 tons. In other words, about 7,300,000,000,000,000 as much. I don't have the exact figures, but that would be like comparing you to a mote of dust. I tend to agree. There's plenty of money available in the world to explore both Mars and the Moon. People may talk of using this money to build houses, hospitals or schools. But while those are worthy caus... [More]
Comment icon #20 Posted by Drayno on 8 February, 2014, 9:48
Thanks for doing the math! And yeah, I agree. Earthly resources are finite.. Let's utilize all currency that's available and invest it in human continuation through space colonization. And that begins with the moon, and Mars.
Comment icon #21 Posted by DKO on 8 February, 2014, 9:54
Did the Chinese rover knock over the flag? All lame jokes aside, any space exploration is good news in my book.

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