Last week, NASA announced the addition of SpaceX, Blue Origin, Sierra Nevada, Tyvak, and Ceres Robotics to the list of Commercial Lunar Payload Services providers. That brings the total number of providers to 14.
It’s good to see continued support of Starship and Blue Moon from NASA, but don’t get too excited by these two merely being added to the CLPS list. After all, OrbitBeyond was on the list and won a task order, and we saw how that turned out.
The key task order for Starship and Blue Moon will be VIPER, the fairly-sizable rover NASA officially announced a month ago at IAC. None of the previous CLPS providers had a lander big enough, so I see this as a contest between Starship and Blue Moon.
I’d be shocked if Blue Moon didn’t get it, as they seem perfectly matched for each other.
That’s not a knock on Starship, but it’s going to take some time for most of the industry to get their head around any architectures involving multiple on-orbit refueling runs and 40-meter cranes.
Blue Moon has a much more straightforward development path from today to VIPER on the lunar surface.