NASA seeks industry help with lunar landings, potentially sample returnEnlarge / The Moon seems to be reemerging as a preferred destination for NASA’s human spaceflight program. (credit: NASA)
NASA is interested in the Moon again.

This week the space agency issued a new “request for information” to the aerospace industry for cargo transportation to the lunar surface.

This new opportunity appears to represent NASA’s increasing willingness to reconsider the Moon as a destination for human spaceflight.
Offered jointly by the agency’s science, human spaceflight, and technology directorates, in its new request NASA seeks to partner with the commercial sector to deliver scientific payloads to the Moon. “NASA has identified a variety of exploration, science, and technology demonstration objectives that could be addressed by sending instruments, experiments, or other payloads to the lunar surface,” the document states. “To address these objectives as cost-effectively as possible, NASA may procure payloads and related commercial payload delivery services to the Moon.”

Specifically, the request seeks opportunities as early as fiscal year 2018, running through the next decade for “agreed-upon” locations on the Moon, and the provision of power, communications, and thermal control both during the flight and on the surface of the Moon.

Additionally, in the request, NASA says it may also seek the return of lunar samples to Earth.
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