Lunar science is entering a new active phase, with commercial launches of landers that will study solar wind and peer into the universe’s dark ages

For the first time since 1972, NASA is putting science experiments on the Moon in 2024. And thanks to new technologies and public-private partnerships, these projects will open up new realms of scientific possibility. As parts of several projects launching this year, teams of scientists, including myself, will conduct radio astronomy from the south pole and the far side of the Moon.

NASA’s commercial lunar payload services program, or CLPS, will use uncrewed landers to conduct NASA’s first science experiments from the Moon in over 50 years. The CLPS program differs from past space programs. Rather than NASA building the landers and operating the program, commercial companies will do so in a public-private partnership. NASA identified about a dozen companies to serve as vendors for landers that will go to the Moon.

NASA buys space on these landers for science payloads to fly to the Moon, and the companies design, build and insure the landers, as well as contract with rocket companies for the launches. Unlike in the past, NASA is one of the customers and not the sole driver.

The first two CLPS payloads are scheduled to launch during the first two months of 2024. There’s the Astrobotics payload, which launched Jan. 8 before experiencing a fuel issue that cut its journey to the Moon short. Next, there’s the Intuitive Machines payload, with a launch scheduled for mid-February. NASA has also planned a few additional landings – about two or three per year – for each of the next few years.

Read the full article from The Conversation

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