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NASA has added five companies to the list of vendors that are cleared to bid on contracts for the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. This list, which already includes nine companies from a previous selection process, now adds SpaceX, Blue Origin, Ceres Robotics, Sierra Nevada Corporation and Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems. All of these companies can now place bids on NASA payload delivery to the lunar surface.

This basically means that these companies (which join Astrobotic Technology, Deep Space Systems, Draper Laboratory, Firefly Aerospace, Intuitive Machines, Lockheed Martin Space, Masten Space Systems, Moon Express and OrbitBeyond) can build and fly lunar landers in service of NASA missions. They’ll compete with one another for these contracts, which will involve lunar surface deliveries of resources and supplies to support NASA’s Artemis program missions, the first major goal of which is to return humans to the surface of the Moon by 2024.

These providers are specifically chosen to support delivery of heavier payloads, including “rovers, power sources, science experiments” and more, like the NASA VIPER (Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover), which is hunting water on the Moon. All of these will be used both to establish a permanent presence on the lunar surface for astronautics to live and work from, as well as key research that needs to be completed to make getting and staying there a viable reality.

Artist’s concept of Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lander

NASA has chosen to contract out rides to the Moon instead of running its own as a way to gain cost and speed advantages, and it hopes that these providers will be able to also ferry commercial payloads on the same rides as its own equipment to further defray the overall price tag. The companies will bid on these contracts, worth up to $ 2.6 billion through November 2028 in total, and NASA will select a vendor for each based on cost, technical feasibility and when they can make it happen.

Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos announced at this year’s annual International Astronautical Congress that it would be partnering with Draper, as well as Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, for an end-to-end lunar landing system. SpaceX, meanwhile, revealed that it will be targeting a lunar landing of its next spacecraft, the Starship, as early as 2022 in an effort to help set the stage for the 2024-targeted Artemis landing.


TechCrunch

It’s hardware season, and now it’s Microsoft’s turn to deliver the goods. The company will be holding its big Surface event bright and early tomorrow morning in New York. If past years’ events are any precedent (and they generally are), there’s going to be a lot of stuff shown off in the Big Apple this week.

This time last year, Microsoft introduced a new version of the Surface Pro, Laptop and Studio and adding over-ear headphones to the lineup. This time out, we’ve already seen a number of leaks that point to additional refreshes and a couple of big “surprises” (in as much as rumored products can truly be a surprise).

The Surface Pro and Laptop are both said to be getting refreshes this year. The Surface Pro 7 is getting a smattering of upgrades — likely the most underwhelming of the event, including a new Intel processor and a USB-C port, dragging it kicking and screaming in 2019. The Surface Laptop 3, meanwhile, gets two size options: a 13- and 15-inch inch model, along with, potentially, a new AMD processor.

As for fully new stuff, Microsoft is believed to finally be embracing the ARM for Windows 10 platform with its Surface line. Rumors have it launching an ARM-powered two-in-one at the event. Among the benefits are a smaller footprint and far improved battery life — both marked benefits for any portable.

The biggest reveal of the show, however, is expected to be the long awaited addition of a dual-screen Surface. A decade after abandoning Courier, Microsoft is expected to announced a new form factor for the line. The rumor, which includes a bespoke version of Windows 10 (the somewhat confusingly named Windows 10 X), also point to a potential launch for the device some time later this year.


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