NASA's Constellation program has released an announcement asking any private individuals or groups to submit their evaluations of the new design of the Altair Lunar Lander. The Altair spacecraft will deliver four astronauts to the lunar surface late in the next decade. NASA plans to establish an outpost on the moon through a sustainable and affordable series of lunar missions beginning no later than 2020.
Here is NASA's reason for asking for the public's help in their own words:
"By soliciting ideas and suggestions from industry and the science community,
NASA hopes to foster a collaborative environment during this early design
effort," said Jeff Hanley, the Constellation Program manager. "Such
collaboration will support the development of a safe, reliable and
technologically sound vehicle for our crews."
NASA expects to award study contracts in the first quarter of 2008. A total of $1.5 million is available for awards. The maximum individual award amount is $350,000. The contract performance period is six months. If you want to apply here is the link.
This process should actually help NASA to develop a better craft, and possible bring the cost down because the contract won't simply be given the same people as always. For more info on the Constellation program go here.