Paris, 5 February 2021. – Ten payloads to study the Moon: The U.S. space agency NASA has awarded the US-Ukrainian Firefly Aerospace a $93.3 million contract to deliver ten science investigations and technology demonstrations to the Moon in 2023, NASA said.
The delivery of ten different payloads, weighing altogether nearly 100 kilogram, is planned to investigate a variety of lunar surface conditions and resources at Mare Crisium, a low-lying, 300-mile-wide basin on the Moon’s near side, NASA said. “Such investigations will help prepare for human missions to the lunar surface.”
The award is key part of NASA’s Artemis program and its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative, in which NASA is securing the service of commercial partners to quickly land science and technology payloads on the lunar surface, the agency said.
Firefly Aerospace will be responsible for end-to-end delivery services, including payload integration, launch from Earth, landing on the Moon, and mission operations. This is the sixth award for lunar surface delivery under the CLPS initiative.
Firefly Aerospace will provide the lunar delivery service using its Blue Ghost lander, which the company designed and developed at its Cedar Park facility in Texas. This facility also will house the integration of NASA and any non-NASA payloads, and also will serve as the company’s mission operations center for the 2023 delivery.
Mare Crisium, where Firefly Aerospace’s Blue Ghost will land, is a more than 300-mile-wide basin where instruments will gather data to provide insight into the Moon’s regolith – loose, fragmented rock and soil – properties, geophysical characteristics, and the interaction of solar wind and Earth’s magnetic field.