On Friday, NASA announced its partnership with three companies to aid with the launch of the first set of American Lunar Rovers, to deliver NASA’s payload to the moon.
The US companies – Astrobotic Technology of Pittsburgh, Intuitive Machines of Houston, and Orbit Beyond of Edison N.J., will build, and operate on the robotic lunar spacecrafts, which will launch NASA’s experimental setup , before the end of 2024. This expedition would be the first touchdown of spacecrafts, since Apollo 17 left in 1972.
The three companies are proposed to work under different expeditions and goals. Orbit Beyond, which is heading the pack with a great sum of $97 million, aims to launch four payloads to Mare Imbrium, a lava plain in one of the moon’s largest craters. Astrobotic was awarded $79.5 million from NASA, and is aiming to launch in 2021, flying its Peregrine Lander with as many as 14 payloads to Lacus Mortis, a large crater on the moon. Intuitive Machines received $77 million to launch with 5 Payloads to a dark spot on the moon called Oceanus Procellarum.
NASA plans to preserve the South Pole of the moon, for human landings, and hence none of the rovers are assigned missions to the poles!
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