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Paving the way to return astronauts to the surface of the Moon, and ultimately Mars, NASA will announce the selection of the first commercial Moon landing service providers that will deliver science and technology payloads as part of the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS). These missions will acquire new science measurements and enable important technology demonstrations, whose data will inform the development of future landers and other exploration systems needed for astronauts to return to the Moon by 2024.
In the latest step to return astronauts to the surface of the Moon, and ultimately Mars, the agency issued its first lunar surface delivery task order to its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) partners on March 26. All nine companies on CLPS contracts are eligible to competitively bid on sending new payloads to study the Moon for NASA. The agency anticipates making an award in May. In February, the agency selected the first 12 instruments and technology demonstrations in final development across the agency for the early commercial delivery services to the lunar surface. A call for non-agency payloads closed in late February, and NASA plans to announce those awards this spring. Additional details, including a targeted launch date and mission payloads, are expected to be announced at the time of award.