The mission will use Texas-based Firefly Aerospace’s robots Blue Ghost lands to deliver two payloads safely to the far side of the moon, which is permanently facing away from the earth.The launch will first send the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Lunar Pathfinder communications and navigation satellite into an elliptical orbit around the moon to relay signals between Earth and the payloads 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 lunar radio environment and peer into the unobserved cosmic “the dark ages,” and the 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 the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. The initiative is part of the agency’s larger one Artemis program.
“NASA continues to look at ways to learn more about our universe,” Nicola Fox, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, said in a announcement (opens in new tab). “Going to the far side of the moon will help scientists understand some of the fundamental physics processes that took place during the early evolution of the universe.”
“This mission will debut Firefly’s unique two-stage Blue Ghost spacecraft, offering NASA and other customers more options for deployment as we jointly build the infrastructure for ongoing lunar operations and planetary exploration,” said Bill Weber, CEO of Firefly Aerospace. different statement (opens in new tab).
The award is the second CLPS contract for Firefly. In 2021, the company was chose to put 10 payloads on the near side of the moon. The Blue Ghost mission will start on one SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in 2024.
China made the first landing on the far side of the moon in 2019 with its Chang’e 4 lander and rover mission.
follow us @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab)or on Facebook (opens in new tab) and Instagram (opens in new tab).