Commercial Lunar Payload Services: A Quick Overview

On the Moon

The Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) is a NASA program that contracts with private companies to send small robotic landers and rovers to the Moon. The aim of CLPS is to stimulate the commercial space industry, facilitating a strategic and more cost-effective approach to lunar exploration.

The program was initiated as a part of NASA’s Artemis program with the goal to return humans to the Moon by 2024 and establish sustainable human presence on the lunar surface. CLPS missions are designed to carry a variety of payloads to the lunar surface, including scientific instruments, technology demonstrations, and other payloads with commercial, academic, or international origins.

Through these contracts, NASA pays for the service of delivering their payloads to the Moon, but does not necessarily buy the landers or rovers. The companies that are awarded these contracts are responsible for the end-to-end services including payload integration, launch from Earth, landing on the Moon, and mission operations.

This approach allows NASA to harness the innovation of private companies and also helps to stimulate a lunar economy, encouraging the development of private-sector robotics and other technologies necessary for sustained lunar exploration. Several companies have been selected as part of the CLPS program, including Astrobotic Technology, Intuitive Machines, amongst others.

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