SpaceX to Launch Masten Mission 1 to Lunar South Pole
Today, NASA and Masten Space Systems announced that the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) Project Office has selected Masten to deliver a suite of NASA-sponsored scientific instruments to the lunar surface by December 2022. In addition to commercial payloads, Masten’s XL-1 lunar lander will deliver nine science and technology demonstration experiments to the lunar south pole under this $75.9 million award. As part of the Artemis program, the purpose of these experiments is to collate localized, concurrent data sets from the lunar polar region in advance of human missions to the Moon.
“Masten is thrilled to have NASA as our anchor customer on this mission,” said CEO Sean Mahoney. “As we, like the rest of the world, work to keep our employees and families safe in these trying times, we’re glad to see America’s return to the Moon and space commerce moving forward.”
Masten will also provide end-to-end commercial payload services between the Earth and the lunar surface for all of the NASA-sponsored payloads. This includes operations associated with the launch vehicle, launch site, spacecraft, lander mission design and analysis, ground systems, payload integration, planning and support, and post-landing payload operations.
“Masten’s XL-1 lunar lander is built on over a decade of experience in vertical takeoff and vertical landing technology (VTVL) with a focus on reusability,” explained Founder and CTO David Masten. “We’re grateful for all the partners and customers who have worked with our team to perform hundreds of successful rocket landings. This experience has helped us develop the enabling technology of entry descent and landing that will ensure precise and safe landings on other celestial bodies.”
Masten’s XL-1 lunar lander is directly evolved from the Xombie and Xoie landers which won the NASA Centennial Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X-Prize Challenge in 2009. Masten’s 600+ VTVL rocket flights and years of working closely with NASA under the Lunar CATALYST program have laid the groundwork for mission success. In addition to the 80 kg of NASA science experiments, the XL-1 lunar lander will have hundreds of kilograms of additional capacity available, allowing Masten to provide reliable and affordable access to the lunar surface for industry, governments, and scientists.
“Under our Artemis program, we are going to the Moon with all of America,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Commercial industry is critical to making our vision for lunar exploration a reality. 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. These CLPS deliveries are on the cutting edge of our work to do great science and support human exploration of the Moon. I’m happy to welcome another of our innovative companies to the group that is ready to start taking our payloads to the Moon as soon as possible.”
Masten’s additional capacity on its first mission to the Moon provides opportunities for commercial partners to access the resource-rich lunar south pole. If your company is interested in sending a payload to the Moon, you can learn more at https://masten.aero/lunar-lander/.
To support lunar delivery and existing lunar development projects, Masten is currently expanding its team. For those who thrive in a dynamic start-up environment and have a passion for reaching the Moon, please apply at https://www.masten.aero/careers/.
About NASA’s CLPS Program
NASA is working with several American companies to deliver science and technology to the lunar surface through the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative. These companies of varying sizes will bid on delivering payloads for NASA, including payload integration and operations, launching from Earth and landing on the surface of the Moon. Under the Artemis program, early commercial delivery missions will perform science experiments, test technologies and demonstrate capabilities to help NASA explore the Moon and prepare for human missions.
About Masten Space Systems
Masten Space Systems is enabling sustainable access and utilization of the Moon, Mars, and beyond. Founded in 2004, Masten has been building and flying reusable rockets for nearly two decades with the most successful rocket-powered landings in the industry. The company is now applying its terrestrial rocket experience to lunar missions that will accelerate space ecosystems and enable new commercial applications. Masten’s end-to-end mission solutions include everything from tech development and testing to off-Earth delivery and operations. Based in Mojave, California, Masten aims to unlock the value in space to benefit humans on Earth, starting with Masten Mission 1 to the lunar south pole.
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