Firefly Aerospace Inc. has awarded a contract to SpaceX to launch their Blue Ghost lunar lander in 2023. Blue Ghost will be carrying 10 payloads for NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) task order 19D mission, in addition to separately contracted commercial payloads.
Firefly was awarded the CLPS 19D task order by NASA in February 2021 and has made rapid progress on the Blue Ghost program. The team has key long lead items on order, production underway, and is conducting regular vision navigation test flights at Firefly’s one-acre Briggs, Texas, lunar landscape site.
Blue Ghost (named after the rare Phausis reticulata firefly) will land at Mare Crisium in the Moon’s Crisium basin and operate on-board payloads through lunar transit, during lunar orbit, and on the lunar surface for a complete lunar day (about 14 Earth days) and well into the freezing dark of lunar night.
Shea Ferring, Firefly Senior Vice President of Spacecraft, said, “Firefly is excited to fly our Blue Ghost spacecraft on the highly reliable Falcon 9, which will deliver NASA instruments and technology demonstration payloads that support NASA science goals and NASA’s Artemis program. The high performance of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle permits a lunar transit using minimal Blue Ghost propulsion resources, thereby allowing the lander to deliver more than 150 kg of payload to the lunar surface.”
“The Blue Ghost mission will include delivery of NASA payloads that will support scientific lunar research and will contribute to developing a sustainable presence on the Moon as part of the Artemis program,” said SpaceX Vice President of Commercial Sales Tom Ochinero. “We’re honored Firefly selected Falcon 9 for launch.”
Tom Markusic, Firefly CEO, said, “Firefly is excited to leverage the performance and reliability of Falcon 9 to propel Blue Ghost on the first phase of its journey to the Moon.”