"It's important that we get back to the moon as fast as possible".
He said NASA aims to test space landers on the moon in 2024 and send people to the lunar surface by 2028. His "wish" is for the first flight to take place this calendar year, but his message was that the companies, not NASA, will set the schedule. "Well what we are going to do now is we are going to take that model. and we are going to apply that to everything between the Earth and the moon so that we have a sustainable return to the moon". But it has a probe ready to go as soon as its rocket is ready.
Instead of building its own small robotic lunar landers/rovers, NASA wants to purchase services from commercial companies that plan to build and launch them for a variety of customers.
CLPS is managed by NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD).
NASA spent a long time looking for the ideal landing site for InSight, while the lander also spent several weeks searching for a rock-free area to place its instruments.
We will decide where to drill using a number of instruments, including the PanCam instrument which I lead. When they are ready, NASA will be ready with payloads. Zurbuchen said NASA prioritized that program as it worked to recover from the five-week partial government shutdown that ended last month. We remain on Earth, and that's a good thing! The studies will examine elements including a transfer vehicle, descent stage and refueling system.
The deadline for bids is March 25, with a first selection due in May, a tight timeline for an agency whose past projects have run years behind schedule and billions over budget.
So, what does "returning to the Moon" actually mean?
"When I saw that the storm had gone global, I thought this could be it", says Squyres, explaining that Opportunity was a solar-powered vehicle and needed the sun for energy.
Gerstenmaier said there's some willingness to consider alternative architectures, although not within this specific announcement.
"When we first lost contact several team members joked about getting matching tattoos when "Oppy" came back", Ms Bean told the Press Association.
"They're like a family to me, and we'll never quite have that experience again".
The team had dwindled to 30 by the time Opportunity went silent, he said.
NASA is speeding up its plans to return to the Moon, and this time, the United States space agency says it will stay there. For Opportunity, it started with landing by chance in a 22-metre wide crater called "Eagle" on an otherwise mainly flat plain - a space exploration "hole in one".
Now, back in November, NASA selected the following nine private space companies: Astrobotic, Deep Space Systems, Draper, Firefly Aerospace, Intuitive Machines, Lockheed Martin Space, Masten Space Systems, Moon Express, and Orbit Beyond.