WASHINGTON — NASA announced May 16 it has selected 11 companies to begin studies and initial prototype development of portions of lunar landers the agency hopes can help it meet its 2024 human landing goal.
The awards are part of NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) series of broad agency announcements that support public-private partnerships to develop technologies needed for NASA’s exploration plans. Companies receiving these awards are required to make their own contributions in addition to NASA’s combined funding of $45.5 million.
The 11 companies selected represent a broad cross-section of the commercial space industry, from established aerospace companies to emerging startups:
Masten Space Systems
Maxar Technologies (formerly SSL)
Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems
Sierra Nevada Corporation
The awards are for human lander studies formally known as NextSTEP Appendix E. Those studies are limited to descent stages, transfer vehicles and refueling elements. At the time NASA released the NextSTEP solicitation Feb. 7, the agency was planning to conduct studies on lander ascent modules within the agency.
The NextSTEP Appendix E proposals were due at NASA March 25. The next day, Vice President Mike Pence announced in a speech ...