In addition to Lockheed Martin, NASA selected Draper, which developed computers for the Apollo missions, Astrobotic Technology Inc, Firefly Aerospace Inc, Moon Express and four others to potentially develop equipment for the program.
The Commercial Lunar Payload Services contracts to be awarded by NASA have a combined maximum value of $2.6 billion during the next 10 years.
When asked what information companies had to provide in order to participate in the program and how NASA chose the winners, Zurbuchen did not go into specifics.
"Working with USA companies is the next step to achieving long-term scientific study and human exploration of the moon and Mars", NASA said in a. The first missions under CLPS could take place in 2019, NASA said in its announcement, although many industry sources expect 2020 to be a more reasonable date for a first mission under the program.
"This is a response to the science community who has for a long time decided that we needed to do science on the surface of the moon", Bridenstine said. "There is a lot of incredible science we can do on the surface of the moon that we can't do anywhere else".
The first stage will include technology testing through 2025, and the second will see the first manned flights to the moon between 2025 and 2035. But Business Insider has learned that Thursday's announcement is tied to a more imminent effort to explore the moon and, by extension, support NASA's larger goals with its gateway.
"When I was a little kid, there were humans on the surface of the moon, and right after they landed, they put up a science experiment: aluminum foil", Zurbuchen said.
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The partnering companies were announced during a press conference held at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., which was streamed live on NASA TV. The first such flight could come as early as next year.
Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of when U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon.
Both companies have been contracted to fly astronauts to the International Space Station, but have suffered setbacks and delays as their work to develop their spacecraft.
Throughout the past moon missions, astronauts spent only 16 days at six sites on the surface.
Local media are invited to a roundtable discussion at 11 a.m. EST on November 30 at NASA's Langley Research Center to discuss how the center is working with commercial partners to support NASA's exploration of the Moon and Mars.
Astrobotic's Peregrine Lunar Lander is created to deliver up to a 35-kilogram payload to the lunar surface. Some of the elements are now under construction on Earth.
The general idea is that these companies will be able to compete for contracts to deliver NASA science experiments to the surface of the moon by flying lunar landers on rocket launches purchased from other commercial space companies. Insight arrived at Mars on Monday.