NASA has announced a new program called Lunar Catalyst that is seeking companies to create private lunar landers. Under the program, NASA will select companies that it will provide extensive assistance to for lunar lander development. NASA will reportedly provide free technical expertise, equipment, facilities, and software.
NASA says that the new plan is designed to help stimulate commercialization. Commercialization is a big deal to NASA since the space shuttle fleet retired. The biggest plan for commercialization comes with NASA's plans for commercial spacecraft that are already taking cargo to the ISS. Those same spacecraft will eventually carry astronauts to the ISS and other locations.
Reports indicate that some major aerospace firms are interested in NASA's program, including Boeing and Alliant Techsystems. Companies interested in participating in the Lunar Catalyst program have until March 17 to submit their business plan to NASA. NASA could purchase hardware or services at a later date.
NASA is working on several programs that involve the moon. One of those programs is to mine water on the moon. NASA is also partnering with Canada and other countries to develop lunar rovers and landers. Companies that develop lunar landers under the new Lunar Catalyst program could be contracted in the future to provide moon related services. NASA is also working with Moon Express to build a working lunar lander using the Might Eagle lander.