Sunday, July 7, 2013
NASA is offering its expertise and test facilities to potential lunar-lander partners who might be able to help mount scientific missions to the Moon as early as 2018. A request for information published July 2 seeks concepts for "an industry-developed robotic lander that can be integrated with a launch vehicle for the purposes of supporting commercial (and potentially future NASA) missions." The responses are due Aug. 2. NASA is proposing no-exchange-of-funds partnerships under Space Act agreements or other mechanisms, offering its technical expertise, test facilities, and some hardware and software to private companies willing to put up funding for lander development. NASA is piggybacking on the Google Lunar X Prize, $30 million in prizes to teams that can land a robotic spacecraft on the lunar surface. Right now 22 teams worldwide are in the running, working against a deadline of Dec. 31, 2015. (Source: Aviation Week, 07/05/13) Gulf Coast note: NASA has two facilities in the Gulf Coast region: Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans.