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Washington/NASA, Oct 19 (Canadian-Media): NASA has awarded Intuitive Machines of Houston approximately $47 million to deliver a drill combined with a mass spectrometer to the Moon by December 2022 under the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative, NASA reports said.
NASA has selected Intuitive Machines to deliver a drill combined with a mass spectrometer to the Moon. Image credit: NASA
The delivery of the Polar Resources Ice Mining Experiment known as PRIME-1 will help NASA search for ice at the Moon’s South Pole and, for the first time, harvest ice from below the surface.
“We continue to rapidly select vendors from our pool of CLPS vendors to land payloads on the lunar surface, which exemplifies our work to integrate the ingenuity of commercial industry into our efforts at the Moon,” said NASA’s Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen. “The information we’ll gain from PRIME-1 and other science instruments and technology demonstrations we’re sending to the lunar surface will inform our Artemis missions with astronauts and help us better understand how we can build a sustainable lunar presence.”
PRIME-1 will land on the Moon and drill up to 3 feet (approximately 1 meter) below the surface. It will measure with a mass spectrometer how much ice in the sample is lost to sublimation as the ice turns from a solid to a vapor in the vacuum of the lunar environment. Versions of PRIME-1’s drill and the Mass Spectrometer Observing Lunar Operations, or MSolo, will also fly on VIPER, a mobile robot that also will search for ice at the lunar South Pole in 2023. NASA will land the first woman and next man on the Moon’s South Pole the following year.
“PRIME-1 will give us tremendous insight into the resources at the Moon and how to extract them,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) in Washington. “Sending this payload to the Moon is a terrific example of our scientific and technology communities coming together with our commercial partners to develop breakthrough technologies to accomplish a range of goals on the lunar surface.”
STMD’s Game Changing Development program funds PRIME-1. Honeybee Robotics of Pasadena, California, is developing the ice-mining drill. NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, in partnership with INFICON of Syracuse, New York, is developing the mass spectrometer.
The data from PRIME-1 will help scientists understand in-situ resources on the Moon. PRIME-1 contributes to NASA’s search for water at the Moon’s poles, supporting the agency’s plans to establish a sustainable human presence on the Moon by the end of the decade. PRIME-1’s early use of the drill and MSolo helps to increase the likelihood of reliable operation of those payloads on VIPER’s mobile platform in the following year.
Through the CLPS initiative, NASA taps its commercial partners to quickly land scientific instruments and technology demonstrations on the Moon with the first flights set for next year. A key part of NASA’s Artemis program, CLPS flights will support a suite of robotic lunar activities ahead of a human return to the Moon as well as throughout this decade.
#NASA; #ArtemisAccords; #21stCenturyLunarExplorationPlans;
NASA, Oct 13 (Canadian-Media): International cooperation on and around the Moon as part of the Artemis program is taking a step forward today with the signing of the Artemis Accords between NASA and several partner countries. The Artemis Accords establish a practical set of principles to guide space exploration cooperation among nations participating in the agency’s 21st century lunar exploration plans.
Image credit: NASA
“Artemis will be the broadest and most diverse international human space exploration program in history, and the Artemis Accords are the vehicle that will establish this singular global coalition,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “With today’s signing, we are uniting with our partners to explore the Moon and are establishing vital principles that will create a safe, peaceful, and prosperous future in space for all of humanity to enjoy.”
While NASA is leading the Artemis program, which includes sending the first woman and next man to the surface of the Moon in 2024, international partnerships will play a key role in achieving a sustainable and robust presence on the Moon later this decade while preparing to conduct a historic human mission to Mars.
The founding member nations that have signed the Artemis Accords, in alphabetical order, are:
NASA announced it was establishing the Artemis Accords earlier this year to guide future cooperative activities, to be implemented through bilateral agreements that will describe responsibilities and other legal provisions. The partners will ensure their activities comply with the accords in carrying out future cooperation. International cooperation on Artemis is intended not only to bolster space exploration but to enhance peaceful relationships among nations.
“Fundamentally, the Artemis Accords will help to avoid conflict in space and on Earth by strengthening mutual understanding and reducing misperceptions. Transparency, public registration, deconflicting operations – these are the principles that will preserve peace,” said Mike Gold, NASA acting associate administrator for international and interagency relations. “The Artemis journey is to the Moon, but the destination of the Accords is a peaceful and prosperous future.”
The Artemis Accords reinforce and implement the 1967 Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, otherwise known as the Outer Space Treaty. They also reinforce the commitment by the U.S. and partner nations to the Registration Convention, the Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, and other norms of behavior that NASA and its partners have supported, including the public release of scientific data.
The principles of the Artemis Accords are:
Additional countries will join the Artemis Accords in the months and years ahead, as NASA continues to work with its international partners to establish a safe, peaceful, and prosperous future in space. Working with emerging space agencies, as well as existing partners and well-established space agencies, will add new energy and capabilities to ensure the entire world can benefit from the Artemis journey of exploration and discovery.