back to article Here's the list of space orgs big and small sparring to send next NASA gear to the Moon

NASA adminstrator Jim Bridenstine on Friday announced the companies the US space agency plans to pay to send its next science experiments to the Moon. The selection is part of NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) programme, which aims to set the boffins' gear down on the lunar surface using landers. The good news …

  1. ridley


    Hasn't the Dragon capsule been regularly successfully splashing down under parachutes?

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Parachutes

      IIRC the actual problem is with the second source of line cutters.

      The parachutes open in stages so they do not get ripped to shreds when the capsule is falling rapidly. At least one of those stages involves cutting a piece of string. There was only one source of line cutters. Demand for these parts was approaching the supply limit so SpaceX found an second source. NASA is part way through deciding if the second source is reliable enough.

  2. Bill Gray

    Far side of moon image

    That image (which is of the _far_ side, incidentally; if it were the _dark_ side, it wouldn't be sunlit) is interesting. A small bit of measurement tells me the moon appears about six times larger than the earth (despite actually having a quarter the diameter). It must have been taken at a point about 16000 km from the moon, and about 400000 km from the earth.

    I think it must have been taken by the Chinese Queqiao probe, sent up to the Earth-Moon L2 point earlier this year (to serve as a communications relay to the far side for an upcoming lander). I can't come up with anything else that would have had that viewpoint.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Far side of moon image

      Well spotted, I hadn't noticed the similarity to to the very poorly publicised Queqiao pictures.

      The farside lander launch looks to be scheduled for this coming Friday.

    2. Spherical Cow Bronze badge

      Paddington Bear came from Darkest Peru, which probably receives just as much sunlight as the more well-known parts of Peru. Also, the Dark Ages did not have shorter daylight hours than ages with more complete written histories.

    3. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

      Re: Far side of moon image

      Comment of the week I think. More of this sort of thing </Father Ted>

  3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    IT Services for CLPS

    I suppose there is business opportunity for IT Services (ITS) to support the Payload Services (PS)?

    1. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge

      Re: IT Services for CLPS

      Probably not, because there isn't a cloud in space.

      {Yeah. Weak, weekend trolling.}

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Re: IT Services for CLPS


        ...because there isn't a cloud in space.

        Pity, else we could have had Musk and his pop-star friend singing...

        "The rain in SpainSpace falls mainly in the..."

        1. Spherical Cow Bronze badge

          Re: IT Services for CLPS


      2. LDS Silver badge

        Probably not, because there isn't a cloud in space.

        The Magellanic Clouds, and many other "nebulas" ("nebula" means "cloud") object...

        1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

          Re: Probably not, because there isn't a cloud in space.

          And then there is the Oort Cloud: Ideal in terms of cooling for your cloudy IT solution, but latency and power supply are iffy, I am told

          I'd better be going, I think

          1. DropBear Silver badge

            Re: Probably not, because there isn't a cloud in space.

            "And then there is the Oort Cloud"

            Yeah sure, have you even looked at those ping times...?

  4. Roland6 Silver badge

    <sarcasm>Nice to see an international shortlist</sarcasm>

    I suspect NASA doesn't want to be in a position to be seen to award a contract to a non-US company whilst Trump is in the White House.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: <sarcasm>Nice to see an international shortlist</sarcasm>

      Yes, commiserations to Vulture SPB for not being selected

  5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge


    I'd have liked to have seen Bigelow get involved in seeing if a lander could deploy one of their self-inflating habitats. And maybe a rover to drive a safe distance away to mark a target for a lander to aim for. We've seen what SpaceX can do with an atmospheric landing using the assistance of fins, lets see who can land that accurately using only reaction engines within walking distance of ready and waiting habitat.

    1. graeme leggett

      Re: Bigelow?

      But Robert Bigelow is going to be real disappointed when he doesn't find evidence of aliens on the moon.

      On the other hand he can blame any system failures on sabotage by aliens already on Earth trying to stop him from discovering their far side base.

  6. Steve Knox

    Sadly, with NASA's schedules stretching out beyond the most optimistic projections for the length of the Trump presidency...

    You mean the shortest ones?

  7. Rol Silver badge

    I'm just popping to the shops dear. Is there anything you want?

    I think I'm not alone when it comes to cost saving - a holiday can sometimes pay for itself if you have the sense to return with commodities that will save you hundred's of pounds in living expenses later.

    So why don't missions to the Moon start with launching a robotic scoop and poop. It can roam across the Moon scooping up dust with the intention of separating the helium-3, which it then poops near the proposed landing site of the next mission.

    When the mission returns, the helium 3 could be sold, which would then, more or less, cover the costs of the mission, and hence fund the next mission.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm just popping to the shops dear. Is there anything you want?

      I'll bite...

      1. what's the price of Helium 3?

      Wikipedia says 70,000 litres is 8kg, and 1 litre reached a peak price of $2000 although it has declined since then; so a kilogram *might* be worth up to $17.5m

      That's for specialised applications though. Whether it would be worth that much when burned to generate electricity is another matter.

      Again thanks to Wikipedia, it would take 6g (at 100% efficiency) to generate a gigawatt for one hour; maybe 15g at a more realistic efficiency estimate.

      If 1 kWh wholesales for 10c, then 1 GWh sells for $100; 1kg of He3 is thus worth about $6,700.

      So maybe 1 tonne would be worth $6.7m.

      2. how much does it cost to mine a ton of Helium 3 on the moon?

      No idea, but Wikipedia says you'd have to process over 150 million tons of regolith to get 1 tonne of Helium 3. Sounds like a lot of machinery wear and tear.

      3. how much does it cost to get a ton of the stuff from the moon to the earth?

      I'll leave that as exercise for the reader :-)

  8. JimmyPage Silver badge

    Strange omissions ?

    No ATOS ? No Capita ?

  9. Pen-y-gors Silver badge


    Presumably these companies will just be bidding for the last bit of the journey - getting the package down to the lunar surface, and not the full journey from Florida. With Boeing/SpaceX/NASA getting it into lunar orbit?

  10. Winkypop Silver badge

    Is it too much to ask for?

    Before I go, I'd love to see, non invasive, HD/4K video of the various Apollo sites.

    Perhaps a Moon drone flying around the various LEM bases?

    It's been a very long time since 1972.

  11. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    It all comes down to which one has the best 'backlot'

    stage to show the landings in full 8K TV to the drug addled public in the USA.

    No need to actually go to the moon. The Apollo missions didn't land there so why change it now?

    Whichever company builds the most realistic Moonscape will win the contract. NASA simply does not have the money to do anything these days.

    {see icon}

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "Whichever company builds the most realistic Moonscape"

      Why build it? You can do it with CGI nowadays...

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