Commercial Lunar Payload Services

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Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) is a NASA program to contract transportation services able to send small robotic landers and rovers to the Moon. CLPS is intended to buy end-to-end payload services between Earth and the lunar surface using fixed priced contracts.[1][2]

The CLPS program is being operated by NASA Headquarter's Science Mission Directorate, in-conjunction with the Human Exploration and Operations and Science Technology Mission Directorates. NASA expects the contractors to provide all activities necessary to safely integrate, accommodate, transport, and operate NASA payloads, including launch vehicles, lunar lander spacecraft, lunar surface systems, Earth re-entry vehicles and associated resources.[2] The first formal solicitation is expected sometime in 2019.


NASA has been planning the exploration and use of natural resources of the Moon for many years. A variety of exploration, science, and technology objectives that could be addressed by regularly sending instruments, experiments and other small payloads to the Moon have been identified by NASA.[1]

When the concept study on the Resource Prospector rover was cancelled in April 2018, NASA officials explained that lunar surface exploration will continue in the future, but using commercial lander services under a new CLPS program.[3][4] Later that April, NASA launched the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program as the first step in the solicitation for flights to the Moon.[1][2][5] In April 2018, CLPS issued a Draft Request for Proposal,[2] and in September 2018 the actual CLPS Request for Proposal was issued.[6]

On 29 November 2018, NASA announced the first nine companies that will be allowed to bid on contracts,[7] which are indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts with a combined maximum contract value of $2.6 billion during the next 10 years.[7] The first formal solicitation is expected sometime in 2019.


The competitive nature of the CLPS program is expected to reduce the cost of lunar exploration, accelerate a robotic return to the Moon, sample return, resource prospecting, and promote innovation and growth of related commercial industries.[8] The payload development program is called Development and Advancement of Lunar Instrumentation (DALI), and the payload goals are exploration, in situ resource utilization (ISRU), and lunar science. The first instruments are expected to be selected by Summer 2019,[2] and the flight opportunities start in 2021.[8][2]

Multiple contracts will be issued, and the early payloads will likely be small because of the limited capacity of the initial commercial landers.[5] The first landers and rovers will be technology demonstrators on hardware such as precision landing/hazard avoidance, power generation (solar and RTGs), in situ resource utilization (ISRU), cryogenic fluid management, autonomous operations and sensing, and advanced avionics, mobility, mechanisms, and materials.[2] This program requires that only US launch vehicles can launch the spacecraft.[2] The mass of the landers and rovers can range from miniature to 1,000 kg (2,200 lb),[9] with a 500 kg (1,100 lb) lander targeted to launch in 2022.[8] The crewed landers that would follow would be much larger, with a mass of approximately 5,000 to 6,000 kilograms.[9]

The Draft Request for Proposal's covering letter states that the contracts will last up to 10 years. As NASA's need to send payloads to the lunar surface (and other cislunar destination) arises it will issue Firm-Fixed Price 'task orders' that the approved prime contractors can bid for. A Scope Of Work will be issued with each task order. The CLPS proposals are being evaluated against five Technical Accessibility Standards.[2]


The companies selected, are considered "main contractors" that can sub-contract projects to other companies of their choice. The first companies granted the right to bid on CLPS contracts are: [7][10]

Company Headquarter Proposed services
Astrobotic Technology Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Peregrine lander
Deep Space Systems Littleton, Colorado Rover; design and development services
Draper Laboratory Cambridge, Massachusetts Artemis-7 lander
Firefly Aerospace Cedar Park, Texas Firefly Alpha and Firefly Beta launch vehicles
Intuitive Machines Houston, Texas Nova-C lander
Lockheed Martin Space Littleton, Colorado McCandless Lunar Lander‎
Masten Space Systems Mojave, California XL-1 lander
Moon Express Cape Canaveral, Florida MX-1, MX-2, MX-5, MX-9 landers; sample return.
Orbit Beyond Edison, New Jersey Z-01 and Z-02 landers

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "NASA Expands Plans for Moon Exploration: More Missions, More Science". NASA. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Draft Commercial Lunar Payload Services - CLPS solicitation". Federal Business Opportunities. NASA. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  3. ^ NASA argues Resource Prospector no longer fit into agency’s lunar exploration plans. Jeff Foust, Space News. 4 May 2018.
  4. ^ NASA emphasizes commercial lunar lander plans with Resource Prospector cancellation. Jeff Foust, Space News. 28 April 2018.
  5. ^ a b NASA cancels lunar rover, shifts focus to commercial moon landers. Stephen Clark, Space News. 1 June 2018.
  6. ^ "Commercial Lunar Payload Services
    Solicitation Number: 80HQTR18R0011R"
    . Federal Business Opportunities. NASA. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c "NASA Announces New Partnerships for Commercial Lunar Payload Delivery Services". NASA.GOV. NASA. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  8. ^ a b c NASA Expands Plans for Moon Exploration: More Missions, More Science. NASA Press Release. Published by SpaceRef. 3 May 2018.
  9. ^ a b NASA to begin buying rides on commercial lunar landers by year's end. Debra Werner, Space News. 24 May 2018.
  10. ^ Draft Concepts for Commercial Lunar Landers. NASA, CLPS. Accessed on 12 December 2018.

External links[edit]

  • [1] Slides from the Industrial Day on May 8, 2018