WashingtonFor the first time since the 1970s, the United States plans to send equipment to the surface of the Moon in 2020 and 2021, waiting for a Moon mission in 2024, NASA reported.
The US space agency chose American companies Astrobotic, Intuitive Machines and Orbit Beyond to send instruments and other scientific equipment to the Moon as part of Artemis's program.
The administration of President Donald Trump has speeded up the schedule for returning people on the Moon with the new target date of 2024 – increased by four years.
Each company has developed lunar devices with different sizes and shapes: one is high and the other two are more compact.
Ground trucks will deliver up to 23 small payloads of equipment provided by NASA. This should include materials that will gather information to help astronauts later land, navigate, and protect themselves from radiation.
Orbit Beyond will land in Mare Imbrium, a lava plane in the lunar crater, until September 2020, after being launched by one of SpaceX's Foxon 9 rockets.
Intuitive machines will try to land by July 2021 in the Ocean Slot, a dark spot on the moon, visible from the Earth. SpaceX will also facilitate this start.
Astrobotic, based in Pittsburgh, will head to Lacus Mortis, a large crater on the nearby side of the moon, by July 2021. He has not yet picked a delivery rocket.
NASA has awarded companies $ 77-97 million each for the development of their landing gear.
"Next year, our initial scientific and technological research will be on the lunar surface, which will help send the first woman and the next man to the Moon for five years," NASA Administrator Jim Brittenstein said on Friday.
"Investing in these commercial landing services is also another powerful step in building an economy of commercial spaces beyond the orbit of low land." The United States sent the last mission to the moon in 1972, the year of Apollo's last mission.
NASA regularly sent moon probes in orbit, but today there are only two active missions: the Moon Reconnaissance Orbiter and the ARTEMIS probes.
Meanwhile, China has landed twice on the moon in recent years: in 2013 and in January on the far side.
The Chang Chang 4 probe and its Yutu-2 motorized robot are the only probes that are active on the surface at the moment.
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