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NASA administrator calls on commercial firms to take US back to moon

'We are going to the moon': NASA administrator calls on commercial firms to take America back to the lunar surface - and the first mission could blast off next year

  • NASA is calling for commercial proposals for delivering instruments, experiments, and other payloads to the surface of the moon as early as next year
  • Administrator Jim Bridenstine asked commercial companies to help get the agency back to the moon as quickly as possible during an 'industry day'
  • NASA hopes to bring astronauts back to the moon and eventually to Mars 

By Mollie Cahillane For Dailymail.com

Published: 18:19 EDT, 9 May 2018 | Updated: 19:43 EDT, 9 May 2018

NASA has issued a plea to companies to respond to an upcoming call for commercial deliveries to the moon, with the first launch as early as next year.

On May 8, Jim Bridenstine gave his first speech as administrator at a lunar conference at NASA headquarters. His message was simple: 'We are going to the moon.'

'Beginning with missions beyond low-Earth orbit, the United States will lead the return of humans to the moon for long-term exploration and utilization,' Bridenstine said in the five minute speech.

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Administrator Jim Bridenstine asked commercial companies to help get the agency back to the moon as quickly as possible during an 'industry day' on May 8
Administrator Jim Bridenstine asked commercial companies to help get the agency back to the moon as quickly as possible during an 'industry day' on May 8

Administrator Jim Bridenstine asked commercial companies to help get the agency back to the moon as quickly as possible during an 'industry day' on May 8

He called for commercial proposals for delivering instruments, experiments, and other small payloads to the surface of the moon.

'You will increase our national capabilities and you will help establish our leadership in the world,' he said.

'We are going to draw on your interests and on your capabilities as American innovators to build capacity that will take American astronauts eventually back to the moon and to destinations farther into the solar system including Mars,' Bridenstine continued. 

The solicitation is part of a broader Exploration Campaign that will pave the way for a human return to the moon, and eventually further into the solar system.

NASA is calling for commercial proposals for delivering instruments, experiments, and other payloads to the surface of the moon as early as next year
NASA is calling for commercial proposals for delivering instruments, experiments, and other payloads to the surface of the moon as early as next year

NASA is calling for commercial proposals for delivering instruments, experiments, and other payloads to the surface of the moon as early as next year

The solicitation is part of a broader Exploration Campaign that will pave the way for a human return to the moon, and eventually further into the solar system
The solicitation is part of a broader Exploration Campaign that will pave the way for a human return to the moon, and eventually further into the solar system

The solicitation is part of a broader Exploration Campaign that will pave the way for a human return to the moon, and eventually further into the solar system

Bridenstine is a former Republican congressman and pilot from Oklahoma. 

He was appointed as administrator by Trump, and was sworn in three weeks ago after NASA went 15 months without a permanent leader.

He also acknowledged the difficulties the organization has faced returning to the moon after the Apollo program, but claims this time will be different.

In 1989, George H. W. Bush announced the Space Exploration Initiative, a program with the long-term goal of human exploration of deep space.

'Major parts of that policy went forward, but establishing permanence on the moon was abandoned,' Bridenstine said on Tuesday.

The Trump administration had previously announced intentions to return to the moon before Bridenstine was sworn in. 

'To many, this may sound similar to our previous attempts to get to the moon,' Bridenstine said.

'However, times have changed. This will not be Lucy and the football again.'

THE BILLIONAIRE SPACE RACE: THE DETAILS

Jeff Bezos in front of Blue Origin's space capsule
Jeff Bezos in front of Blue Origin's space capsule

Jeff Bezos in front of Blue Origin's space capsule

Jeff Bezos' space tourism project with Blue Origin is competing with a similar programme in development by Space X, the rocket firm founded and run by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and Virgin Galactic, backed by Richard Branson.

Bezos revealed in April 2017 that he finances Blue Origin with around $1 billion (£720 million) of Amazon stock each year.

The system consists of a pressurised crew capsule atop a reusable 'New Shepard' booster rocket. 

The richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos is pursuing Blue Origin with vigour as he tries to launch his 'New Glenn' rocket into low-Earth orbit by 2020.  

Whilst Bezos is yet to leave the atmosphere of Earth, despite several successful launches, Elon Musk's SpaceX programme has already sent the Falcon Heavy rocket into space.

On February 6 2018, SpaceX sent the rocket towards the orbit of Mars, 140 million miles away. 

On board was a red Tesla roadster that belonged to Musk himself.

Elon Musk with his Dragon Crew capsule
Elon Musk with his Dragon Crew capsule

Elon Musk with his Dragon Crew capsule

SpaceX have won several multi-million dollar contracts from Nasa as the space agency hopes to use the rockets as a fast-track for its colonisation of the red planet. 

Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic recently successfully conducted a test flight of the Virgin Galactic’s Unity spaceplane.   

The flight accelerated to over 1,400 miles per hour (Mach 1.87).

Calling space 'tantalisingly close', Branson also said last year that suborbital space in test flights could be happening by this spring. 

More than 700 affluent customers to date, including celebrities Brad Pitt and Katy Perry, have reserved a $250,000 (£200,000) seat on one of Virgin's space trips, 

The billionaire mogul also said he expects Elon Musk to win the race to Mars with his private rocket firm SpaceX. 

Richard Branson with the Virgin Galactic craft
Richard Branson with the Virgin Galactic craft

Richard Branson with the Virgin Galactic craft

SpaceShipTwo will carry six passengers and two pilots. Each passenger gets the same seating position with two large windows - one to the side and one overhead.

The space ship is 60ft long with a 90inch diameter cabin allowing maximum room for the astronauts to float in zero gravity.

A climb to 50,000ft before the rocket engine ignites. Passengers become 'astronauts' when they reach the Karman line, the boundary of Earth's atmosphere, at which point SpaceShipTwo separates from its carrier aircraft, White Knight II.

The spaceship will then make a sub-orbital journey with approximately six minutes of weightlessness, with the entire flight lasting approximately 3.5 hours.  

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