Commercial Lunar Payload Services

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Commercial Lunar Payload Services
NASA Selects First Commercial Moon Landing Services for Artemis Program (47974872533).jpg
Models of the first three commercial landers selected for the program. Left to right: Peregrine by Astrobotic Technology, Nova-C by Intuitive Machines, and Z-01 by OrbitBeyond.
Type of projectAerospace
ProductsProposed: Peregrine, Artemis-7, Nova-C, McCandless Lunar Lander, Genesis, XL-1, MX-1, MX-2, MX-5, MX-9, Z-01 and Z-02
CountryUnited States

Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) is a NASA program to contract transportation services able to send small robotic landers and rovers to the Moon's south polar region mostly[1][2] with the goals of scouting for lunar resources, testing in situ resource utilization (ISRU) concepts, and performing lunar science to support the Artemis lunar program. CLPS is intended to buy end-to-end payload services between Earth and the lunar surface using fixed priced contracts.[3][4]

The CLPS program is being operated by NASA Headquarter's Science Mission Directorate, in-conjunction with the Human Exploration and Operations and Space 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.[4] Flight opportunities are scheduled to start in mid 2020.[5]


NASA has been planning the exploration and use of natural lunar resources 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.[3]

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.[6][7] Later that April, NASA launched the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program as the first step in the solicitation for flights to the Moon.[3][4][8] In April 2018, CLPS issued a Draft Request for Proposal,[4] and in September 2018 the actual CLPS Request for Proposal was issued.[9] The text of the formal solicitation and selected contractors are here:[9]

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

In February 2018 NASA issued a solicitation for Lunar Surface Instrument and Technology Payloads that may become CLPS customers. Proposals were due by November 2018 and January 17, 2019. NASA plans to make yearly calls for proposals.[11][12]

On May 31, 2019, NASA announced a list of awards, featuring Astrobotic, of Pittsburgh, Pa., $79.5 million; Intuitive Machines, of Houston, Texas, $77 million; and OrbitBeyond, $97 million; to launch their Moon landers.[5] However, Orbit Beyond dropped out of this contract in July 2019, but remains a contractor able to bid on future missions.[13]

On 18 November 2019, NASA added five new contractors to the group of companies who are eligible to bid to send large payloads to the surface of the moon with to the CLPS program: Blue Origin, Ceres Robotics, Sierra Nevada Corporation, SpaceX, and Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems.[14]

On 8 April 2020, it was announced that NASA had awarded the fourth (after Astrobotic's, Intuitive Machines' and OrbitBeyond's awards) CLPS contract for Masten Space Systems. The contract, worth US$ 75.9 million, is for Masten's XL-1 lunar lander to deliver payloads from NASA and other customers to the south pole of the Moon in late 2022. [15]


The lunar south pole region is of special interest because of the occurrence of water ice in permanently shadowed areas inside craters, near constant solar power at the crater rims, and abundant metals and oxygen in the regolith.[16][17]

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 in the south polar region, and promote innovation and growth of related commercial industries.[18] 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,[4] and the flight opportunities start in 2021.[18][4]

Multiple contracts will be issued, and the early payloads will likely be small because of the limited capacity of the initial commercial landers.[8] 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.[4] This program requires that only US launch vehicles can launch the spacecraft.[4] The mass of the landers and rovers can range from miniature to 1,000 kg (2,200 lb),[19] with a 500 kg (1,100 lb) lander targeted to launch in 2022.[18]

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.[4]

NASA is assuming a cost of one million dollars per kilogram delivered to the lunar surface. (This figure may be revised after a lunar landing when the actual costs are available.)[20]


Astrobotic Peregrine
Z-01 lander and rover

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 were chosen in 2018.[10][21][9]

On May 31, 2019, three of those were awarded lander contracts: Astrobotic Technology, Intuitive Machines, OrbitBeyond (displayed in bold).[5]

On July 29, 2019, NASA announced that it had granted OrbitBeyond's request to be released from this specific contract, citing "internal corporate challenges".[22]

In April 2020, NASA selects Masten Space Systems to deliver cargo to the Moon in 2022.[23][24]

List of contractors[edit]

The contractors selected for CLPS are:

Selection date Company Headquarters Proposed services Awarded contract
29 November 2018 Astrobotic Technology Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Peregrine lander 31 May 2019
Deep Space Systems Littleton, Colorado Rover; design and development services
Draper Laboratory Cambridge, Massachusetts Artemis-7 lander
Firefly Aerospace Cedar Park, Texas Genesis lander[25]
Intuitive Machines Houston, Texas Nova-C lander 31 May 2019
Lockheed Martin Space Littleton, Colorado McCandless Lunar Lander
Masten Space Systems Mojave, California XL-1 lander 8 April 2020
Moon Express Cape Canaveral, Florida MX-1, MX-2, MX-5, MX-9 landers; sample return.
OrbitBeyond Edison, New Jersey Z-01 and Z-02 landers 31 May 2019 / 29 July 2019
18 November 2019 Blue Origin Kent, Washington Blue Moon lander
Ceres Robotics Palo Alto, California
Sierra Nevada Corporation Louisville, Colorado
SpaceX Hawthorne, California Starship
Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems Irvine, California
  • The companies awarded lander contracts displayed in bold.
  • OrbitBeyond was awarded contract but later released (displayed in italics).

Payload selection[edit]

The first batch of science payloads are being developed in NASA facilities, due to the short time available before the first planned flights. Subsequent selections include payloads provided by universities and industry. Calls for payloads are planned to be released each year for additional opportunities.

First batch[edit]

The first twelve NASA payloads and experiments were announced on February 21, 2019,[26][27] and will fly on separate missions. NASA hoped to assign the first mission in May 2019 before selecting specific payloads for that flight. This was realized May 31, 2019, when NASA released the list of the first companies to participate in the program.[5]

  • Linear Energy Transfer Spectrometer, to monitor the lunar surface radiation.
  • Magnetometer, to measure the surface magnetic field.
  • Low-frequency Radio Observations from the Near Side Lunar Surface, a radio experiment to measure photoelectron sheath density near the surface.
  • A set of three instruments to collect data during entry, descent and landing on the lunar surface to help develop future crewed landers.
  • Stereo Cameras for Lunar Plume-Surface Studies is a set of cameras for monitoring the interaction between the lander engine plume and the lunar surface.
  • Surface and Exosphere Alterations by Landers, another landing monitor to study the effects of spacecraft on the lunar exosphere.
  • Navigation Doppler Lidar for Precise Velocity and Range Sensing is a velocity and ranging lidar instrument designed to make lunar landings more precise.
  • Near-Infrared Volatile Spectrometer System, is an imaging spectrometer to analyze the composition of the lunar surface.
  • Neutron Spectrometer System and Advanced Neutron Measurements at the Lunar Surface, are a pair of neutron detectors to quantify the hydrogen -and therefore water near the surface.
  • Ion-Trap Mass Spectrometer for Lunar Surface Volatiles, is a mass spectrometer for measuring volatiles on the surface and in the exosphere.
  • Solar Cell Demonstration Platform for Enabling Long-Term Lunar Surface Power, a next-generation solar array for long-term missions.
  • Lunar Node 1 Navigation Demonstrator, a navigation beacon for providing geolocation for orbiters and landing craft.

Second batch[edit]

On July 1, 2019, NASA announced the selection of twelve additional payloads, provided by universities and industry. Seven of these are scientific investigations while five are technology demonstrations [28]

  • MoonRanger, a small, fast-moving rover that has the capability to drive beyond communications range with a lander and then return to it. Astrobotic Technology, Inc.
  • Heimdall, a flexible camera system for conducting lunar science on commercial vehicles. Planetary Science Institute.
  • Lunar Demonstration of a Reconfigurable, Radiation Tolerant Computer System, which will demonstrate a radiation-tolerant computing technology. Montana State University.
  • Regolith Adherence Characterization (RAC) Payload, which will determine how lunar regolith sticks to a range of materials exposed to the Moon's environment. Alpha Space Test and Research Alliance, LLC.
  • The Lunar Magnetotelluric Sounder, which will characterize the structure and composition of the Moon's mantle by studying electric and magnetic fields. Southwest Research Institute.
  • The Lunar Surface Electromagnetics Experiment (LuSEE), which will make comprehensive measurements of electromagnetic phenomena on the surface of the Moon. University of California, Berkeley.
  • The Lunar Environment heliospheric X-ray Imager (LEXI), which will capture images of the interaction of Earth's magnetosphere with solar wind. Boston University.
  • Next Generation Lunar Retroreflectors (NGLR), which will serve as a target for lasers on Earth to precisely measure the Earth-Moon distance. University of Maryland.
  • Lunar Compact InfraRed Imaging System (L-CIRiS), an infrared radiometer to explore the Moon's surface composition and temperature distribution. University of Colorado.
  • The Lunar Instrumentation for Subsurface Thermal Exploration with Rapidity (LISTER), an instrument designed to measure heat flow from the interior of the Moon. Texas Tech University.
  • PlanetVac, a technology for acquiring and transferring lunar regolith from the surface to other instruments or place it in a container for its potential return to Earth. Honeybee Robotics, Ltd.
  • SAMPLR: Sample Acquisition, Morphology Filtering, and Probing of Lunar Regolith, a sample acquisition technology that will make use of a robotic arm. Maxar Technologies.

List of missions contracted under CLPS[edit]

Name Launch Contractor Lander Launch Vehicle Notes Outcome
Peregrine Mission One June 2021 Astrobotic Technology Peregrine Vulcan Awarded in May 2019. Will carry 28 payloads, including 14 NASA payloads contracted under CLPS to Lacus Mortis on the Moon, landing is scheduled for June 2021. NASA awarded $79.5 M.[29] Peregrine mass 1,283 kg, payload mass up to 256 kg. Planned
Intuitive Machines Mission 1 (IM-1) October 2021 Intuitive Machines Nova-C Falcon 9 Awarded in May 2019.[30] Will carry up to five NASA contracted payloads as well as payloads from other customers to Schroter's Valley on the Moon, the spacecraft will operate for up to 14 days after landing.[31][32] Planned
Masten Mission One December 2022 Masten Space XL-1 Falcon 9[33] Awarded in April 2020.[34] Intended to deliver several hundred kg of payloads to the Lunar south pole, more information is expected once the mission draws closer.[35][36] Planned
Intuitive Machines Mission 2 (IM-2) December 2022 Intuitive Machines Nova-C Falcon 9 Awarded in October 2020.[37] Will land a drill (PRIME-1) combined with a mass spectrometer to the Lunar south pole, to attempt harvesting ice from below the surface. Planned
VIPER NET 2023 Astrobotic Technology Griffin TBA First flight of Astrobotic's larger Griffin lander, Will deliver NASA's VIPER resource prospecting lunar rover to the Lunar south pole.[30] Griffin is 450 kg, the award is for $199.5 M[30] (that has to cover Griffin lander and launch costs too). Planned

Orbit Beyond returned their task order (cancelling their mission) two months after award.[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ NASA taps 3 companies for commercial moon missions. William Harwood, CBS News. 31 May 2019.
  2. ^ NASA awards contracts to three companies to land payloads on the moon. Jeff Foust, Space News. 31 May 2019
  3. ^ a b c "NASA Expands Plans for Moon Exploration: More Missions, More Science". NASA. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Draft Commercial Lunar Payload Services - CLPS solicitation". Federal Business Opportunities. NASA. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d "NASA chooses three companies to send landers to the moon". UPI. Retrieved June 1, 2019.
  6. ^ NASA argues Resource Prospector no longer fit into agency's lunar exploration plans. Jeff Foust, Space News. 4 May 2018.
  7. ^ NASA emphasizes commercial lunar lander plans with Resource Prospector cancellation. Jeff Foust, Space News. 28 April 2018.
  8. ^ a b NASA cancels lunar rover, shifts focus to commercial moon landers. Stephen Clark, Space News. 1 June 2018.
  9. ^ a b c "Commercial Lunar Payload Services
    Solicitation Number: 80HQTR18R0011R"
    . Federal Business Opportunities. NASA. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  10. ^ a b c "NASA Announces New Partnerships for Commercial Lunar Payload Delivery Services". NASA.GOV. NASA. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  11. ^ "NASA Calls for Instruments, Technologies for Delivery to the Moon". NASA. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  12. ^ "Lunar Surface Instrument and Technology Payloads". NSPIRES - NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System. NASA. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  13. ^ Private Company Orbit Beyond Drops Out of 2020 NASA Moon-Landing Deal. Mike Wall, 30 July 2019.
  14. ^ Grush, Loren (November 18, 2019). "NASA partners with SpaceX, Blue Origin, and more to send large payloads to the Moon 5 - The companies are aiming to land in the early 2020s". The Verge. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
  15. ^ Masten wins NASA lunar lander award. Jeff Foust, Space News. 8 April 2020.
  16. ^ Why the Lunar South Pole? Adam Hugo. The Space Resource. 25 April 2029.
  17. ^ Lunar Resources: Unlocking the Space Frontier. Paul D. Spudis. Ad Astra, Volume 23 Number 2, Summer 2011. Published by the National Space Society. Retrieved on 16 July 2019.
  18. ^ a b c NASA Expands Plans for Moon Exploration: More Missions, More Science. NASA Press Release. Published by SpaceRef. 3 May 2018.
  19. ^ NASA to begin buying rides on commercial lunar landers by year's end. Debra Werner, Space News. 24 May 2018.
  20. ^ Report Series: Committee on Astrobiology and Planetary Science. Review of the Commercial Aspects of NASA SMD's Lunar Science and Exploration. The National Academies Press. p. 15. doi:10.17226/25374. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  21. ^ Draft Concepts for Commercial Lunar Landers. NASA, CLPS. Accessed on 12 December 2018.
  22. ^ "Commercial lunar lander company terminates NASA contract". July 30, 2019. Retrieved July 30, 2019.
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ Jeff Foust (July 9, 2019). "Firefly to partner with IAI on lunar lander". Space News. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  26. ^ NASA selects experiments to fly aboard commercial lunar landers. Derek Richardson, Spaceflight Insider. February 26, 2019,
  27. ^ NASA picks 12 lunar experiments that could fly this year. David Szondy, New Atlas. 21 February 2019.
  28. ^ NASA Selects 12 New Lunar Science, Technology Investigations. Grey Hautaluoma, NASA Headquarters Press Release 19-053. July 1, 2019
  29. ^
  30. ^ a b c d
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ SpaceX to Launch Masten Lunar Mission in 2022. Meagan Crawford, Masten Press Release. August 26, 2020.
  34. ^ [1]
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^ Brown, Katherine (October 16, 2020). "NASA Selects Intuitive Machines to Land Water-Measuring Payload on the Moon". NASA. Retrieved November 15, 2020.

External links[edit]

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