SpaceX to launch NASA-sponsored moon mission


SpaceX  has secured a contract to act as the launch partner for Masten Space Systems for its first lunar lander mission carrying eight payloads in late 2022.

Masten Space Systems has announced signing a contract with SpaceX to launch its Masten Mission One (MM1). SpaceX will send its XL-1 lunar lander for the delivery of eight NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) payloads to the moon’s South Pole, reported the Masten Space Systems in a press release. The payload delivery to the moon is only a part of NASA’s Artemis program under which it also plans to land humans in the same region in 2024.

Earlier on April 8, 2020, NASA selected the Masten Space Systems as an appropriate company to accomplish MM1 in a collaboration with NASA’s CLPS Project Office and deliver the payloads that include instruments to assess the composition of the lunar surface, test precision landing technologies and evaluate the radiation on the Moon.

Sean Mahoney, the Chief Executive Officer of Masten Space Systems, appreciated the decision to choose SpaceX as a partner for launching XL-1 lunar lander. “Having SpaceX’s proven launch success behind us is not only great for us, but it’s great for our customers“, said Mahoney. “We share a common vision with SpaceX and that makes this more than a partnership. It’s more like a dream team”, added the CEO.

According to Mahoney, the lander has already passed a preliminary design review, while the company is starting to purchase long-lead items needed to build the spacecraft. “There’s a game of positioning among the various instruments so that they can get the view angles that they need and not interfere,” he said. 

Since a preliminary design of the lander is approved and the main principle of lander‘s design is the “pickup truck that can haul a bunch of different things”, Mahoney explained that no major changes will be made at this point.

The agreement with Masten Space Systems becomes the latest itinerary in the ever-expanding list of SpaceX missions. Previously, SpaceX has signed a contract with Intuitive Machines, the company that won the first NASA CLPS award in 2019. At that time Intuitive Machines chose SpaceX to send its lunar lander IM-1 for mission on a Falcon 9 in 2021. Two years ago, in 2018, SpaceX was selected by Ispace, Japanese company, for an orbiter and lander launching mission on Falcon 9 rockets in 2022 and 2023.

Neither the Masten Space Systems nor SpaceX have not made public the value of the latest lunar lander launching contract. 

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