Commercial Lunar Payload Services
NASA Selects First Commercial Moon Landing Services for Artemis Program (47974872533).jpg
Models of the first three commercial landers selected for the program. Left to right: Peregrine by Astrobotic Technology, Nova-C by Intuitive Machines, and Z-01 by OrbitBeyond.
ProductsPeregrine, Artemis-7, Firefly Alpha, Firefly Beta, Nova-C, McCandless Lunar Lander, XL-1, MX-1, MX-2, MX-5, MX-9, Z-01 and Z-02
CountryUnited States

Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) is a NASA program to contract transportation services able to send small robotic landers and rovers to the Moon with the goals of exploration, in situ resource utilization (ISRU), and lunar science to support the Artemis lunar program. CLPS is intended to buy end-to-end payload services between Earth and the lunar surface using fixed priced contracts.[1][2]

The CLPS program is being operated by NASA Headquarter's Science Mission Directorate, in-conjunction with the Human Exploration and Operations and Science Technology Mission Directorates. NASA expects the contractors to provide all activities necessary to safely integrate, accommodate, transport, and operate NASA payloads, including launch vehicles, lunar lander spacecraft, lunar surface systems, Earth re-entry vehicles and associated resources.[2] Flight opportunities are scheduled to start in mid 2020.[3]


NASA has been planning the exploration and use of natural resources of the Moon for many years. A variety of exploration, science, and technology objectives that could be addressed by regularly sending instruments, experiments and other small payloads to the Moon have been identified by NASA.[1]

When the concept study on the Resource Prospector rover was cancelled in April 2018, NASA officials explained that lunar surface exploration will continue in the future, but using commercial lander services under a new CLPS program.[4][5] Later that April, NASA launched the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program as the first step in the solicitation for flights to the Moon.[1][2][6] In April 2018, CLPS issued a Draft Request for Proposal,[2] and in September 2018 the actual CLPS Request for Proposal was issued.[7] The text of the formal solicitation and selected contractors are here:[7]

On 29 November 2018, NASA announced the first nine companies that will be allowed to bid on contracts,[8] which are indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts with a combined maximum contract value of $2.6 billion during the next 10 years.[8] The first formal solicitation is expected sometime in 2019.

In February 2018 NASA issued a solicitation for Lunar Surface Instrument and Technology Payloads that may become CLPS customers. Proposals were due by November 2018 and January 17, 2019. NASA plans to make yearly calls for proposals.[9][10]

On May 31, 2019, NASA announced a list of awards, featuring Astrobotic, of Pittsburgh, Pa., $79.5 million; Intuitive Machines, of Houston, Texas, $77 million; and OrbitBeyond, of Edison, N.J., $97 million; to launch their Moon landers[3].


The competitive nature of the CLPS program is expected to reduce the cost of lunar exploration, accelerate a robotic return to the Moon, sample return, resource prospecting, and promote innovation and growth of related commercial industries.[11] The payload development program is called Development and Advancement of Lunar Instrumentation (DALI), and the payload goals are exploration, in situ resource utilization (ISRU), and lunar science. The first instruments are expected to be selected by Summer 2019,[2] and the flight opportunities start in 2021.[11][2]

Multiple contracts will be issued, and the early payloads will likely be small because of the limited capacity of the initial commercial landers.[6] The first landers and rovers will be technology demonstrators on hardware such as precision landing/hazard avoidance, power generation (solar and RTGs), in situ resource utilization (ISRU), cryogenic fluid management, autonomous operations and sensing, and advanced avionics, mobility, mechanisms, and materials.[2] This program requires that only US launch vehicles can launch the spacecraft.[2] The mass of the landers and rovers can range from miniature to 1,000 kg (2,200 lb),[12] with a 500 kg (1,100 lb) lander targeted to launch in 2022.[11]

The Draft Request for Proposal's covering letter states that the contracts will last up to 10 years. As NASA's need to send payloads to the lunar surface (and other cislunar destination) arises it will issue Firm-Fixed Price 'task orders' that the approved prime contractors can bid for. A Scope Of Work will be issued with each task order. The CLPS proposals are being evaluated against five Technical Accessibility Standards.[2]

NASA is assuming a cost of one million dollars per kilogram delivered to the lunar surface. (This figure may be revised after a lunar landing when the actual costs are available.)[13]


Astrobotic Peregrine
Z-01 lander and rover

The companies selected are considered "main contractors" that can sub-contract projects to other companies of their choice. The first companies granted the right to bid on CLPS contracts are:[8][14][7]

Company Headquarter Proposed services
Astrobotic Technology Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Peregrine lander
Deep Space Systems Littleton, Colorado Rover; design and development services
Draper Laboratory Cambridge, Massachusetts Artemis-7 lander
Firefly Aerospace Cedar Park, Texas Firefly Alpha and Firefly Beta launch vehicles
Intuitive Machines Houston, Texas Nova-C lander
Lockheed Martin Space Littleton, Colorado McCandless Lunar Lander
Masten Space Systems Mojave, California XL-1 lander
Moon Express Cape Canaveral, Florida MX-1, MX-2, MX-5, MX-9 landers; sample return.
OrbitBeyond Edison, New Jersey Z-01 and Z-02 landers

On May 31, 2019 three of those were awarded lander contracts (displayed in bold).[3]

First payload selection

The science payloads are being developed in NASA facilities. Calls for payloads are planned to be released each year for additional opportunities. The first twelve NASA payloads and experiments were announced on February 21, 2019,[15][16] and will fly on separate missions. NASA hoped to assign the first mission in May 2019 before selecting specific payloads for that flight. This was realized May 31, 2019, when NASA released the list of the first companies to participate in the program[3]. In a press conference, OrbitBeyond CEO Siba Padhi said[3] the company's lander would be on the Moon by September 2020.

  • Linear Energy Transfer Spectrometer, to monitor the lunar surface radiation.
  • Magnetometer, to measure the surface magnetic field.
  • Low-frequency Radio Observations from the Near Side Lunar Surface, a radio experiment to measure the density of the photoelectron sheath density near the surface.
  • A set of three instruments to collect data during entry, descent and landing on the lunar surface to help develop future crewed landers.
  • Stereo Cameras for Lunar Plume-Surface Studies is a set of cameras for monitoring the interaction between the lander engine plume and the lunar surface.
  • Surface and Exosphere Alterations by Landers, another landing monitor to study the effects of spacecraft on the lunar exosphere.
  • Navigation Doppler Lidar for Precise Velocity and Range Sensing is a velocity and ranging lidar instrument designed to make lunar landings more precise.
  • Near-Infrared Volatile Spectrometer System, is an imaging spectrometer to analyze the composition of the lunar surface.
  • Neutron Spectrometer System and Advanced Neutron Measurements at the Lunar Surface, are a pair of neutron detectors to quantify the hydrogen -and therefore water near the surface.
  • Ion-Trap Mass Spectrometer for Lunar Surface Volatiles, is a mass spectrometer for measuring volatiles on the surface and in the exosphere.
  • Solar Cell Demonstration Platform for Enabling Long-Term Lunar Surface Power, a next-generation solar array for long-term missions.
  • Lunar Node 1 Navigation Demonstrator, a navigation beacon for providing geolocation for orbiters and landing craft.

See also


  1. ^ a b c "NASA Expands Plans for Moon Exploration: More Missions, More Science". NASA. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Draft Commercial Lunar Payload Services - CLPS solicitation". Federal Business Opportunities. NASA. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e "NASA chooses three companies to send landers to the moon". UPI. Retrieved June 1, 2019.
  4. ^ NASA argues Resource Prospector no longer fit into agency’s lunar exploration plans. Jeff Foust, Space News. 4 May 2018.
  5. ^ NASA emphasizes commercial lunar lander plans with Resource Prospector cancellation. Jeff Foust, Space News. 28 April 2018.
  6. ^ a b NASA cancels lunar rover, shifts focus to commercial moon landers. Stephen Clark, Space News. 1 June 2018.
  7. ^ a b c "Commercial Lunar Payload Services Solicitation Number: 80HQTR18R0011R". Federal Business Opportunities. NASA. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c "NASA Announces New Partnerships for Commercial Lunar Payload Delivery Services". NASA.GOV. NASA. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  9. ^ "NASA Calls for Instruments, Technologies for Delivery to the Moon". NASA. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  10. ^ "Lunar Surface Instrument and Technology Payloads". NSPIRES - NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System. NASA. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  11. ^ a b c NASA Expands Plans for Moon Exploration: More Missions, More Science. NASA Press Release. Published by SpaceRef. 3 May 2018.
  12. ^ NASA to begin buying rides on commercial lunar landers by year's end. Debra Werner, Space News. 24 May 2018.
  13. ^ Report Series: Committee on Astrobiology and Planetary Science. Review of the Commercial Aspects of NASA SMD's Lunar Science and Exploration. The National Academies Press. p. 15. doi:10.17226/25374. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  14. ^ Draft Concepts for Commercial Lunar Landers. NASA, CLPS. Accessed on 12 December 2018.
  15. ^ NASA selects experiments to fly aboard commercial lunar landers. Derek Richardson, Spaceflight Insider. February 26, 2019,
  16. ^ NASA picks 12 lunar experiments that could fly this year. David Szondy, New Atlas. 21 February 2019.

External links

  • [1] Slides from the Industrial Day on May 8, 2018