NASA business partner to visit the far side of the moon | digital trends

NASA has big plans for the moon. From sending the first manned mission to land on its surface in 50 years to setting up a space station in orbit, the agency has multiple missions planned to explore our planet’s satellite. These include partnerships with a number of private companies, as well as projects developed by NASA, such as the Commercial Lunar Payload Services, or CLPS, program, which will outsource the transport of small payloads to the moon.

This week, NASA announced that it has selected the company Firefly Aerospace to develop a commercial lander for the far side of the moon. The lander, called Blue Ghost, will be used to send various NASA payloads to the moon, including a radio observation mission that hovers on the far side of the moon to minimize radio noise coming from Earth. . This natural radio quiet zone will allow the Lunar Surface Electromagnetics Experiment-Night (LuSEE-Night) telescope to detect faint radio waves from an early period of the universe known as the cosmic dark ages.

Rendering of Firefly’s Blue Ghost lunar lander carrying NASA’s LuSEE-Night radio telescope to the far side of the Moon. aerospace firefly

“We look forward to Firefly providing this CLPS delivery,” Joel Kearns, deputy associate administrator for exploration in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said in a statement. “This moon landing should allow new scientific discoveries from the other side of the Moon during the lunar night. This particular group of payloads should not only spawn new science, but should be a trailblazer for future research exploiting this unique insight into our solar system.”

In addition to LuSEE-Night, Firefly will also be tasked with carrying a data transmission and communications satellite called Lunar Pathfinder, which is a collaboration between NASA and the European Space Agency, and which will be deployed into orbit before the lander landing set on the surface of the moon. In addition, the NASA User Terminal payload will help with communications, and up to seven other payloads from private companies will also be included.

“NASA continues to look for ways to learn more about our universe,” said Nicola Fox, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate. “Going to the far side of the Moon will help scientists understand some of the fundamental physical processes that occurred during the early evolution of the universe.”

Firefly got off to a troubled start to its orbital ambitions when its first attempt to reach orbit with its Alpha rocket in September 2021 ended in explosive failure. But a year later, its second orbital launch attempt was successful, and the rocket was able to deploy its orbital payloads.

The goal is for Firefly to launch its lunar mission, Blue Ghost Mission 1, in 2024.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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