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Including partners in their moon plans will allow NASA to launch more frequent, cost-effective trips to the moon, which means that more frequent experiments will be able to land, Bridenstine said. "We are eager to add NASA to our existing manifest of commercial customers, and get America back on the surface as soon as possible".

Speaking to reporters on Thursday in Washington, D.C., NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said Musk's behavior "was not appropriate".

Bridenstine confirmed he has ordered a safety review of NASA's contractors SpaceX and Boeing after Musk smoked, but said that was always the plan. He also clearly loves being in the spotlight, and those two things don't necessarily mix well when one of your biggest partners is the US space program.

Local media are invited to a roundtable discussion at 11 a.m. EST on November 30 at NASA's Langley Research Center to discuss how the center is working with commercial partners to support NASA's exploration of the Moon and Mars. NASA will continue looking at private sector for innovations and delivery solutions. Its team is comprised of space tech and support services for the Nasa programme. "Today, we got the news that NASA selected Lockheed Martin as one of nine companies to build lunar landers", said Josh Hopkins, a Senior Staff Engineer at Lockheed Martin. Through CLPS, Astrobotic will be a 10-year provider of delivery services for NASA payloads to the Moon. Some companies noted after the event that the awards will help them raise money from investors by demonstrating that they have a real, and potentially lucrative, customer for their vehicles.

NASA expects these lunar payloads could lift off as early as 2019. "The idea being [to] prove the capability, retire the risk, prove the human physiology, and then go on to Mars".

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"We're returning to the Moon, preparing to go beyond to Mars".

Of the group, the only well-known name is aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, which has a long track record of success with NASA and built the InSight lander that touched down Monday on Mars.

"Navigating humans to the moon and back almost 50 years ago was an incredibly proud moment for the engineers and scientists at Draper", CEO Kaigham Gabriel said. As part of that directive, companies can bid on contracts to develop services to deliver new lunar payloads, through NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services.

Orbit Beyond, a spacecraft company, is expected to fly its spacecraft to the Moon by 2020.

Likewise, Boeing and SpaceX are readying new commercial crew ships to carry astronaut to and from the space station starting next year.