PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — NASA has awarded Astrobotic $79.5 million, and plans on flying as many as 14 payloads to the moon by July of 2021.
Astrobotic is headquartered in Pittsburgh and is one of three commercial moon landing service providers in the U.S. selected to deliver payloads to the moon as part of its Artemis program.
The aerospace company proposed to fly the 14 payloads to a large crater on the near side of the moon.
Each commercial moon lander will carry the equipment provided by NASA. The material will conduct science investigations and demonstrate advanced technologies on the lunar surface.
This will pave the way for NASA astronauts to land on the lunar surface by 2024.
Less than a year ago, Astrobotic was awarded $10 million to create a precision landing system for their spacecraft Peregrine.
NASA said the selection of these commercial moon landing service providers represents America’s return to the moon’s surface for the first time in decades. These plans will help support sending the first woman and the next man to the moon.
As part of their submissions, each provider will be flying specific NASA instruments to the lunar surface.
The next goal for NASA’s Artemis program after its 2024 mission is to establish a sustained human presence on and around the moon by 2028.
After this, NASA hopes to prepare astronauts for a mission to Mars.