Firefly Aerospace was awarded a contract worth $112 million by NASA to deliver multiple lunar payloads in 2026. As Firefly’s second task order won under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload (CLPS) initiative, the company will use its Blue Ghost spacecraft in a two-stage configuration to first place a satellite into lunar orbit, and then deliver two research payloads on the far side of the Moon.
The mission aims to carry those payloads to the far side of the Moon, including a satellite that orbits that area and a communication and data relay satellite for Lunar Orbit, which is a collaboration between the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA.
Firefly is responsible for end-to-end delivery services, including payload integration, delivery from Earth to the surface and orbit of the Moon, and NASA payload operations for the first lunar day. This is the second award to Firefly under the CLPS initiative, and the ninth surface delivery task award issued to a CLPS vendor and the second to the far side.
“Our second lunar mission is something we’re celebrating as a Firefly team, as a NASA commercial provider, and most importantly, as an all-American company committed to making space exploration an achievable dream for everyone.
This mission will debut Firefly’s unique two-stage Blue Ghost spacecraft, offering NASA and other customers multiple deployment options as we collectively build the infrastructure for ongoing lunar operations and planetary exploration”.
—Bill Weber, CEO of Firefly Aerospace
The payloads will be delivered to a landing site on the far side of the Moon that permanently faces away from Earth, making it an ideal location for making radio observations that are shielded from the noise generated by our planet.
The Lunar Surface Electromagnetics Experiment-Night (LuSEE-Night) is a pathfinder to understand the Moon’s radio environment and potentially take a first look at an unobserved era in our cosmic history.
It aims to take advantage of a radio-quiet zone to make low-frequency astrophysics measurements of the cosmos, using deployable antennas and radio receivers, focusing on the “Dark Ages” cosmic era that began some 370,000 years after the Big Bang and lasted until the first stars and galaxies formed.
LuSEE-Night is a collaboration between the Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University of California, Berkeley, Space Science Laboratory, and NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
The Lunar Pathfinder, instead, is a communications and data relay satellite, that will provide communication services to lunar missions via S-band and UHF links to lunar assets on the surface and in orbit around the Moon, and an X-band link to Earth. The User Terminal will institute a new standard for S-Band Proximity-1 space communication protocol and establish space heritage.
Firefly’s Blue Ghost spacecraft will first place the satellite into lunar orbit, and then deliver the two research payloads on the far side of the Moon. The mission will advance lunar research and infrastructure in conjunction with NASA’s Moon-to-Mars roadmap.
The three payloads slated for delivery are expected to weigh in total about 1,090 pounds (494.5 kilograms).
The 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 Artemis, commercial deliveries will perform science experiments, test technologies and demonstrate capabilities to help NASA explore the Moon and prepare for human missions.
CLPS contracts are indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts with a cumulative maximum contract value of $2.6 billion through 2028.
About Firefly Aerospace
Firefly Aerospace is an end-to-end space transportation company developing a family of launch vehicles, in-space vehicles, and services to provide industry-leading affordability, convenience, and reliability to government and commercial customers.
Firefly’s small-to medium-lift launch vehicles, combined with its spacecraft, such as the Space Utility Vehicle (SUV) and Blue Ghost lunar lander, provide the space industry with a single source for missions from LEO to the surface of the Moon and beyond.
They successfully reached Low Earth Orbit at their second launch attempt of the Alpha Rocket, in 2022.