Humankind is going back to the Moon, but this time it’s not just for a stroll. The updated mission is to stay, at least for a full day and night. With SSC as a partner, Firefly is planning for a sustained lunar presence.
After being somewhat neglected for decades, there is now a general consensus that there is so much more to explore when it comes to our closest neighbor. Exploring the Moon has come back in style, big time.
“There has been a huge push to get people back to the Moon, this time to stay. This goal has inspired so many of our new recruits to pursue engineering and we are going to see benefits from having more young people in STEM in all industries. As we saw with the Apollo program, any technology developed to make it possible to live in as challenging an environment as the Moon will help us thrive in the comparatively benign environment of Earth. The technologies needed for a sustained presence, like those enabling autonomous mining and use of lunar resources, are already being developed and will be demonstrated on upcoming CLPS missions,” says Will Coogan, Chief Engineer for Firefly’s Blue Ghost Lunar Lander.
“Our future missions will demonstrate more of everything”
Firefly’s heavy invest in lunar missions will span over a large part of the mission phases – from data downlink to surface mobility. The Blue Ghost mission 1 will demonstrate a baseline capability of precision landing, survival of a full lunar day and into the lunar night. Along the way, SSC will assist with continuous data gathering and downlink at the highest rates offered among CLPS competitors.
“Humankind is going back to the Moon and our goal is to lay the infrastructure to make that possible. To achieve this, our future missions will demonstrate more of everything: mass capability, power, data, operating duration through the lunar night, surface mobility, and more destinations including the lunar poles and far side,” Will continues.
Firefly’s upcoming lunar endeavor is ambitious and the partnership with SSC will play an important role for mission success.
“SSC has a reliable, proven, global network of commercial ground stations providing the pass coverage and communications performance required for the Blue Ghost mission. SSC delivers critical spacecraft tracking and communications services imperative to successfully navigating the Blue Ghost lander to the lunar surface and reliably collecting high priority science data”.
“SSC has made Blue Ghost mission success a priority”
“As a professional, efficient and highly competent organization with obvious experience from a long history of supporting NASA and lunar missions, SSC has made Blue Ghost mission success a priority. Risk reduction activities were welcomed by the SSC team including verification of system compatibility through detailed reviews of spacecraft Radio Frequency (RF) and ground station parameters, recommendations for compatible test modems and planning of early risk reduction compatibility testing at SSC headquarters,” says Gina Signori, Blue Ghost’s Telecom Lead, President of Deep Space Communication Systems.
Exploring the Moon up close on a long-term basis offers enormous scientific opportunities. For Firefly, this work has only begun.
“A lot is happening at the moment. We are proving out key technologies on our testbeds and locking down our Blue Ghost mission 1 design. We will launch and land in 2024, which is just around the corner. It has been rewarding to see our lander come to life, after completing IRR a few months ago, we are in full production and testing mode. We also have a high Delta V spacecraft that can shuttle payloads all around LEO and cislunar space also in development and working under a NASA contract. And we are about to launch our second Alpha launch vehicle from Vandenberg Space Force Base. It’s a very exciting time at Firefly and the future feels close,” concludes Will Coogan, Chief Engineer for Firefly’s Blue Ghost Lunar Lander.
Photo: Firefly Aerospace