NASA will allocate $93.3 million to Firefly Aerospace, belonging to Ukrainian businessman Max Polyakov, for the delivery of scientific and technological equipment to the Moon in 2023.
Firefly will commit to delivering the cargo to the Sea of Crises area on the visible side of the Moon, the agency reports.
This equipment is designed to study the conditions on the lunar surface and the resource base of the Earth’s natural satellite. Research will help prepare future lunar missions involving humans.
The total weight of the cargo is 94 kg and includes experimental equipment. It includes a set of reflectors for accurate measurements of the distance between the Moon and the Earth, electronics, resistant to solar radiation, devices for analyzing the regolith (lunar soil) and the structure of the lunar mantle.
The mission is a part of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. As part of the program, NASA engages commercial companies to quickly deliver scientific and technical equipment to the Moon.
The cargo delivery is a key step in the Artemis program, that involves sending people and building an inhabited settlement on the Moon.
Recall that the Firefly Aerospace last contract, that was signed with NASA for $9.8 million, concerned the launch of small satellites into orbit.
Firefly Aerospace (formerly Firefly Space Systems) is a private aerospace company headquartered in Austin (Texas, USA) that develops light launch vehicles for launching cargo into space. In 2017, the company was bought by Ukrainian entrepreneur Maxim Polyakov, who relaunched it under the new name Firefly Aerospace.