NASA uses CLPS programme to contract lunar ride for Firefly’s Blue Ghost 2 lunar lander and ESA’s Lunar Pathfinder comms relay spacecraft

by | Mar 17, 2023 | exploration, Launches, NASA, Seradata News

Firefly Aerospace has been awarded a second CLPS transportation order to the Moon, this time for the Blue Ghost 2 lander mission which NASA has payloads on under a US$112 million contract made under the NASA CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) programme.  Blue Ghost will land payloads on the far side of the Moon in 2026. NASA selected Firefly Aerospace to land payloads on the far side of the moon and to place the ESA funded SSTL-build Lunar Pathfinder communications relay satellite into lunar orbit. In return for the launch, ESA is giving NASA access to the relay services on Lunar Pathfinder.

Artist’s impression of Lunar Parthfinder data relay spacecraft. Courtesy: ESA

The Blue Ghost 2 lander will carry the NASA-sponsored Lunar Surface Electromagnetics Experiment-Night (LuSEE-Night) payload to perform radio astronomy observations of the early universe from the Far Side where the Moon itself blocks out Earth communications as well as payloads for other users.

The lander will also carry for NASA a new communications terminal to support LUSEE-Night and to commission Lunar Pathfinder. Firefly said in a statement that the spacecraft will be able to carry other payloads for additional government and commercial customers.

The launch will be the second flight of the Blue Ghost lander. The first will be launched to the Sea of Crises (Mare Crisium) on the Lunar Nearside under a CLPS launch contract made to Firefly Aerospace in 2021. However, the new mission will use an extra transfer stage to allow for the positioning of the Lunar Pathfinder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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