"NASA Tuesday issued a Request for Information (RFI) that will help agency officials better understand current plans in the U.S. commercial space industry for a robotic lunar landing capability. The RFI will assist NASA in assessing U.S. industry's interest in partnerships to develop a robotic lander that could enable commercial and agency missions.
NASA does not envision an exchange of funds between the agency and any industry partners. Potential NASA contributions to a partnership could include the technical expertise of NASA staff on integrated teams, providing NASA center test facilities at no cost, or contributing hardware or software for commercial lander development and testing."
Marc's note: No doubt commercial entities will be intrigued to have access to NASA expertise etc. but at what cost? They have to think about their business plan, intellectual property (IP) etc. What does NASA get out of it? There's no exchange of funds and there's definitely an IP issue to consider. How will Congress react? Is this a possible model for private/public commercial exploration of the moon?
"U.S. industry is flourishing with innovative ideas based on NASA's pioneering work to explore space, including low-Earth orbit and the moon," said William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and operations in Washington." As NASA aims to expand human presence in the solar system through missions to an asteroid and Mars, hundreds of new technologies and experiments aboard the International Space Station are giving humans the tools we need to explore the unknown. New robotic commercial capabilities on the moon could extend that research in important ways, just as NASA expertise could help advance commercial endeavors to reach the moon."