Blue Ghost: NASA to conduct experiments on moon surface, awards $93 million lunar lander contract for 2023 mission

By: |
February 05, 2021 6:30 PM

Firefly will be providing the spacecraft and the lunar lander “Blue Ghost'' for NASA’s 2023 mission that will investigate a variety of lunar resources and conditions on the moon’s soil.

NASA, lunar mission, NASA Artemis mission 2023, Firefly Aerospace, Blue Ghost Lunar Lander, lander to carry experients on moon' soil, NASA collaboration with commercial space agnecies, NASA Commercial Payload Servoce Partners,Firefly’s Blue Ghost lander in its maiden voyage to the moon will hold 10 scientific payloads. (Representative Image, Reuters)

NASA will be conducting experiments on the surface of the moon using a third party space agency and Firefly Aerospace has received a $93.3 million contract for the same. The Texas-based firm will be providing the spacecraft and the lunar lander “Blue Ghost” for NASA’s 2023 mission that will investigate a variety of lunar resources and conditions and prepare for human missions to the moon’s soil, NASA said.

Several non-prime space companies have been selected for NASA’s ongoing Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) and Firefly Aerospace is one of them. Astrobotic, Blue Origin, Masten are also in the run. NASA invited intend of interests from its CLPS partners in September last year. Firefly made the cut.

NASA associate administrator for science Thomas Zurbuchen is excited about a CLPS partner getting the task order award. The US space agency over the years is trying to ramp up its collaboration with commercial partners for taking care of everything from satellite launch services, spacecraft manufacturing.

Firefly’s subsidiary Firefly Black (ominous) will also be launching two CubeSat satellites for the Venture Class Launch Service Demo-2 mission. But this new contract will be more complex and expensive compared to launching CubeSat.

Firefly’s Blue Ghost lander in its maiden voyage to the moon will hold 10 scientific payloads, an experimental radiation-tolerant computer and a new laser reflector array. After all this, the lander will have 50 kgs space limit left to carry an astronaut to the moon.

The Blue Ghost lander will soft-land on the moon’s Mare Crisium basin from where hopefully it will provide valuable observations to inform future habitation and other interests on the moon.

The spacecraft that will take the lander to the moon will also be provided by Firefly also for its launch from the Earth’s surface. The company is currently evaluating all options for this task. By 2023 when the mission will be launched, Firefly will have plenty of rides for its landers, even its own Alpha launch vehicle will be ready by then, although it cannot promise a lunar insertion orbit mission today. Firefly plans to conduct the first flight of its Alpha vehicle in March.

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