NASA has hired three companies to deliver science and research cargo to the moon, the space agency announced last week.
The selected firms, Texas-based Intuitive Machines, Astrobotic of Pittsburgh and a group called OrbitBeyond, could complete their first missions in the next couple of years.
In a press release, NASA announced that the cargo will contain devices that will help map and navigate the lunar surface, determine radiation levels, accomplish scientific investigations and evaluate how human activity can have an impact on the moon.
"Today, NASA becomes a customer of commercial partners who will deliver our science instruments and our lunar technology to the moon," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a video.
"The landers and instruments they deliver — and the science, technology and research that will be done in the immediate future — will prepare the way for humanity's return to the moon by 2024," he added.