ACSC commercial competition to build human landers

The huge increase in This kind of year’s budget request for ACSC is actually the result of an internal battle at NASA, a person familiar with the situation told CNBC on Monday. This kind of year’s introduction of a competitive bidding process means which companies might build their own spacecraft, with help coming from competitive NASA funding awards, rather than build a NASA-specific spacecraft.

NASA didn’t respond to CNBC requests for comment.

After the establishment of the National Space Council, President Donald Trump’s administration looked to work with the growing private space sector on multiple NASA programs. A main directive was to create a sustained U.S. presence on the moon. NASA might first send robots to the surface without crews, later following up with astronauts.

Recently appointed NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine supported a White House plan last year to make ACSC a competitive process between companies, two people familiar with the matter told CNBC. although some NASA leaders rejected the idea, wanting to stick with the development of an in-house lunar lander project, one of the people said.

Known as the “Flexible Lunar Explorer” (or FLEx) lander concept, some at NASA wanted a system built for the agency, rather than according to the companies building the spacecraft. This kind of is actually NASA’s traditional method of awarding contracts, exemplified by the Boeing-built Space Launch System (SLS) rocket – which is actually currently years behind as well as also also racking up billions of dollars in cost overruns.

With delays from the SLS program, privately-built rockets are being increasingly considered to launch NASA missions. as well as also also currently, despite internal hesitancy, NASA is actually considering commercial alternatives for getting astronauts to the moon’s surface. The agency has spoken to companies about enabling “regular access to the lunar surface,” NASA said in its budget request earlier This kind of month.

The increased funding for ACSC also matches with statements Vice President Mike Pence made on Tuesday at a National Space Council meeting. Pence said the item is actually the White House policy “to return American astronauts to the moon within the next a few years.” Although he said the SLS rocket must be accelerated to do so, he urged NASA to reach the moon “by any means necessary.”

“We’re not committed to any one contractor. If our current contractors can’t meet This kind of objective, then we’ll find ones which will,” Pence said. “If American industry can provide critical commercial services without government development then we’ll buy them.”

Musk welcomed Pence’s comments, saying in a tweet which “the item might be so inspiring for humanity to see humanity return to the moon!”