Texas-based Firefly has been tasked with putting a lunar lander on the far aspect of the Moon, the place it is going to drop off a pair of communications experiments.
NASA chosen Firefly Aerospace to ship a number of lunar payloads in 2026 below a $112 million contract, Firefly announced on Wednesday. The corporate will use its Blue Ghost spacecraft to put a European communications satellite tv for pc in lunar orbit earlier than delivering the 2 NASA payloads on the far aspect of the Moon as a part of the area company’s Business Lunar Payload Initiative.
“Wanting forward, Firefly’s evolving line of launch automobiles and spacecraft permits us to assist extra superior missions over the subsequent 5 to 10 years,” Invoice Weber, CEO of Firefly Aerospace, stated in an emailed assertion.
The upcoming mission will first ship the European Area Company’s Lunar Pathfinder satellite tv for pc to lunar orbit, the place it is going to function a communications relay for different spacecraft on or across the Moon. The Blue Ghost spacecraft will use a switch car to put the satellite tv for pc in orbit.
Firefly’s Blue Ghost lander will then carry the Lunar Floor Electromagnetics Experiment-Night time (LuSEE-Night time) to the far aspect of the Moon, a pathfinder that can observe delicate radio waves. The Moon’s far aspect is known as the “radio-quiet zone” because it faces away from Earth, and subsequently our planet’s radio waves gained’t intervene with astronomical observations. LuSEE-Night time will probably be used to watch the cosmic “darkish ages,” exploring the interval between round 370,000 years after the Huge Bang and when the primary stars and galaxies started forming.
The Blue Ghost Lander may also ship a communications terminal to assist LuSEE-Night time and fee the Lunar Pathfinder.
That is the second NASA contract awarded to Firefly. In 2021, NASA selected the corporate to ship a collection of 10 scientific experiments to the Moon’s close to aspect as a part of a $93.3 million contract. The primary mission, Blue Ghost 1, is scheduled to launch in 2024, carrying a further two industrial payloads on board. “This follow-on award is one other vote of confidence into our Blue Ghost spacecraft in addition to the bigger capabilities inside Firefly’s product portfolio,” Jana Spruce, vp of Spacecraft, Firefly Aerospace, stated within the emailed assertion.
Firefly is comparatively new to the sport, having reached orbit for the first time in October 2022. The corporate’s Alpha rocket’s inaugural launch didn’t precisely go as deliberate, with the rocket delivering its payload to a decrease orbit than supposed. Nonetheless, even that was higher than Firefly’s first try and fly the Alpha rocket in 2021, which ended in a fiery explosion simply 15 seconds after liftoff.