NASA has selected Firefly Aerospace to land payloads on the moon and send another into orbit to provide communication with the far side of the moon.
The mission will use the robot from Texas-based Firefly Aerospace Blue Ghost lander to safely deliver two payloads to the far side of the moon, which is permanently facing away from us Soil.
The launch will first launch the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Lunar Pathfinder communications and navigation satellite into an elliptical orbit around the moon to pass signals between the Earth and the charges on the surface.
Related: Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha rocket reaches orbit for the first time
The payloads destined for the surface are the Lunar Surface Electromagnetics Experiment-Night (LuSEE Night), which is designed to understand the moon’s radio environment and in the unobserved cosmic “Middle Ages,” and User Terminal (UT), which will provide communication support for LuSEE-Night.
NASA announced Tuesday (March 14) that it had awarded Firefly the $112 million contract as part of its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. The initiative is part of the larger of the agency Artemis program.
“NASA continues to explore ways to learn more about our universe,” Nicola Fox, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, said in a statement. rack (opens in new tab). “Going to the far side of the moon allows scientists to understand some of the fundamental physical processes that took place during the early evolution of the universe.”
“This mission will debut Firefly’s unique two-stage Blue Ghost spacecraft, which will provide NASA and other customers with multiple deployment options as we jointly build the infrastructure for ongoing lunar operations and planetary exploration,” said Bill Weber, CEO of Firefly Aerospace, in a statement. other statement (opens in new tab).
The award is Firefly’s second CLPS contract. In 2021 the company was selected to place 10 charges on the near side of the moon. That Blue Ghost mission launches on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in 2024.
China made the first landing on the far side of the moon in 2019 Chang’e 4 lander and rover mission.
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