NASA has awarded Masten Space Systems a potential $75.9M contract to provide a vehicle that will carry nine instruments being built to support the agency’s manned lunar exploration goals.
The company will use its X-1 lunar lander to deliver payloads designed to facilitate precision landing tests and studies on the moon’s radiation and surface composition, NASA said Thursday.
Masten will provide the commercial lunar payload services as part of the Artemis mission to put U.S. astronauts on the moon in 2024.
Instruments on the CLPS program include the Lunar Compact Infrared Imaging System, designed to assess the lunar surface via infrared wavelength measurements; and the Linear Energy Transfer Spectrometer, which is meant to quantify the lunar surface’s radiation.
The Heimdall camera system will work to record video footage from vehicles and help scientists model the moon’s soil and rocks, also known as regolith.
The other instruments would cover other lunar studies such as landing accuracy and temperature measurement.
NASA seeks to deploy the payloads sometime in 2022 for science and technology activities on the lunar south pole. Masten Space Systems will also provide operational support for the instruments.
“Commercial industry is critical to making our vision for lunar exploration a reality,” said Jim Bridenstine, NASA administrator and a former Wash100 awardee.
“The science and technology we are sending to the lunar surface ahead of our crewed missions will help us understand the lunar environment better than we ever have before.”