These companies will design and launch scientific instruments and robotic payloads under Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) programme.
The statement added NASA will periodically "re-examine" the commercial marketplace for "new and emerging lunar delivery capabilities, and may offer additional companies an opportunity to join Commercial Lunar Payload Services through a contract process called on-ramping".
Hot on the heels of successfully landing a spacecraft on Mars on November 26, NASA officials explained it will partner with nine private companies who "will compete to deliver experiments to the lunar surface", the Associated Press reported Thursday.
Comparing future bids, NASA will study the technical feasibility, price and schedules offered by the nine companies.
Most of the nine companies approved for bidding say they will not be ready to begin operations until at least 2021. It is an experimental part of the agency's plan for Americans to orbit the Moon starting in 2023, and land astronauts on the surface no later than the late 2020s.
Through new partnerships with private companies, NASA aims to ramp up its efforts to return to the moon. Bridenstine said that NASA wants a lot of companies involved to strengthen competition.
The vehicle had been in development for about a decade to explore a polar region of the Moon.
Bridenstine said he ordered safety reviews of SpaceX and Boeing, another NASA contractor - which were first reported by The Washington Post earlier this month - but stressed that he had wanted the reviews of their corporate culture before Musk was filmed smoking weed.
In an announcement Thursday, the space agency named the organizations that are now eligible to bid on delivering science and technology payloads to the lunar surface.
"We believe that there is a lot of unbelievable science that we can do on the surface of the Moon", Bridenstine said.
The space agency plans to work closely with these private companies and maybe more.
NASA Administrator James Bridenstine delivers remarks as he tours the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Monday, Aug. 13, 2018. The agency now partners with the private sector for other missions, including human transport to the International Space Station (ISS) wherein SpaceX and Boeing are developing capsules for that goal, and the Directive expands that to include deep space missions. It also plans to construct a station in orbit around the moon called the Gateway.
And of course, the moon's surface will be a kind of test site for human missions to Mars, much like the space station has established information about long-term human spaceflight.
Both private companies built their own space systems under NASA's guidance after the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.
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