Firelfly Aerospace has chosen SpaceX to launch its Blue Ghost lander to the Moon in 2023. On site, the vehicle will unload around ten payloads on behalf of NASA.
Last February, NASA set its sights on Firefly Aerospace to deliver a set of ten payloads research on the Moon in 2023 as part of its Lunar Commercial Services Program (CLPS).
These ten instruments include a probe to measure the heat flux of the lunar interior and an X-ray imager to study the interaction of the Earth’s magnetosphere with the solar wind. It will also test several technologies, including a computer system tolerant to radiation and an experiment to test the ability to use GPS signals at lunar distances.
These instruments, with a total mass of 94 kilograms, will be delivered to Mare Crisium, northeast of the Sea of Tranquility (northern hemisphere of the visible face) by a lander dubbed Blue Ghost, named after a rare species of firefly. It remained to be seen who would deliver this lander to lunar orbit.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9
Firefly is developing its own launcher, named Alpha, but this rocket will not be powerful enough to take Blue Ghost to the Moon. Also, the company had to approach another supplier. And without much surprise, she has chose SpaceX’s Falcon 9.
“SpaceX’s high performance Falcon 9 launcher enables lunar transit using minimal Blue Ghost propulsion resources“Said Shea Ferring, senior vice president of spacecraft at Firefly. And who says less propulsion, says more payloads. Thus, thanks to SpaceX, the company will be able to afford to deliver all its instruments to the surface.
SpaceX, a taxi to the moon
With this contract, SpaceX is now launching five of the six CLPS missions awarded to date by NASA. Intuitive machines It will also rely on the Falcon 9 to launch its two lunar landing missions, the first of which is now scheduled for early next year. Same thing for society Masten space systems and its Masten Mission One lander, whose launch is planned for the end of 2022.
Astrobotic announced last April that its Griffin lander, carrying NASA’s VIPER rover, will be launched on a Falcon Heavy launcher. Astrobotic, in charge of the last of the six CLPS missions, will provide the services of the Vulcan rocket, developed by United Launch Alliance. The launch of its lander, named Peregrine, is scheduled for the end of this year.
Finally, remember that SpaceX also won a contract from NASA for launch the first two elements of the future lunar gateway in 2024. And while the project is still on temporary hold, there are still plans to have SpaceX bringing future humans back to the Moon as part of the Artemis program aboard its Starship vehicle.