NASA and Masten Space Systems announced on 8 April 2020 that the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) Project Office has selected Masten to deliver a suite of NASA-sponsored scientific instruments to the lunar surface by December 2022. In addition to commercial payloads, Masten’s XL-1 lunar lander will deliver nine science and technology demonstration experiments to the lunar south pole under this $75.9 million award. As part of the Artemis program, the purpose of these experiments is to collate localized, concurrent data sets from the lunar polar region in advance of human missions to the Moon.
“Masten is thrilled to have NASA as our anchor customer on this mission,” said CEO Sean Mahoney. “As we, like the rest of the world, work to keep our employees and families safe in these trying times, we’re glad to see America’s return to the Moon and space commerce moving forward.”
Masten will also provide end-to-end commercial payload services between the Earth and the lunar surface for all of the NASA-sponsored payloads. This includes operations associated with the launch vehicle, launch site, spacecraft, lander mission design and analysis, ground systems, payload integration, planning and support, and post-landing payload operations.
“Masten’s XL-1 lunar lander is built on over a decade of experience in vertical takeoff and vertical landing technology (VTVL) with a focus on reusability,” explained Founder and CTO David Masten. “We’re grateful for all the partners and customers who have worked with our team to perform hundreds of successful rocket landings. This experience has helped us develop the enabling technology of entry descent and landing that will ensure precise and safe landings on other celestial bodies.”
Masten’s XL-1 lunar lander is directly evolved from the Xombie and Xoie landers which won the NASA Centennial Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X-Prize Challenge in 2009. Masten’s 600+ VTVL rocket flights and years of working closely with NASA under the Lunar CATALYST program have laid the groundwork for mission success. In addition to the 80 kg of NASA science experiments, the XL-1 lunar lander will have hundreds of kilograms of additional capacity available, allowing Masten to provide reliable and affordable access to the lunar surface for industry, governments, and scientists.
“Under our Artemis program, we are going to the Moon with all of America,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Commercial industry is critical to making our vision for lunar exploration a reality. The science and technology we are sending to the lunar surface ahead of our crewed missions will help us understand the lunar environment better than we ever have before. These CLPS deliveries are on the cutting edge of our work to do great science and support human exploration of the Moon. I’m happy to welcome another of our innovative companies to the group that is ready to start taking our payloads to the Moon as soon as possible.”
Masten’s additional capacity on its first mission to the Moon provides opportunities for commercial partners to access the resource-rich lunar south pole. If your company is interested in sending a payload to the Moon, you can learn more at www.MastenMoon.com.