Earlier this week, the U.S. space agency put out a formal request for proposals for human-rated lunar landers with a goal of putting humans on the surface by 2028. In the near-term another program announced late last year aims to put payload on the surface for NASA even sooner: the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS).
"We're going to go to the Moon in a way that we've never gone to the Moon before," said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine in opening remarks to the Feb. 14, 2019, forum. "We're going to go with international partners. We're going to go with commercial partners. And here is the key element: we're going to go sustainably."
Bridenstine said NASA is going "forward" to the Moon to stay, not just leave flags and footprints only to not return for another 50 years.
"We're going to go sustainably, to stay with landers and robots and rovers and humans," Bridenstine said. "We're going to put humans on the surface of the Moon. We're going to build an architecture where we can back and forth again and again and again."
Between Bridenstine and Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Bill Gerstenmaier, the agency's approach was laid out along with a reference architecture for human-rated landers. First is CLPS, which would involve companies bidding to send payload to the surface of the Moon through their own lander systems.