NASA has selected 9 companies to master the Moon. Firefly with an office in Dnipro is among them

Space Agency NASA has published a list of 9 US companies that it will cooperate with when sending descent vehicles. They entered the NASA CLPS program. Selected enterprises will be able to compete for the money of the agency, providing their services for the delivery of scientific cargo or technology to the surface of the satellite. The firms include Lockheed Martin, Astrobotic, Moon Express, Masten Space Systems, Deep Space Systems, Draper, Intuitive Machines, Orbit Beyond, and Firefly Aerospace. The latter has Ukrainian roots.

The company was established on the basis of Firefly Space Systems, which was bought and relaunched by the Ukrainian entrepreneur and founder of Noosphere Ventures Maxym Polyakov in 2017. The company develops light transporters for cargo delivery to near-Earth orbit. Its head office is located in the USA, however, the R&D center of the enterprise has opened in Dnipro. There they are developing an electric jet engine and a satellite. However, so far, the company has not conducted test or commercial launches, the first tests are scheduled for 2019, when it will have access to the spaceport.

Photo: Prototypes of the launch vehicle and landing probe from Firefly

The total amount of contracts that CLPS members can receive is more than $ 2.6 billion. The number of possible missions, as well as the amount of remuneration for each, is not disclosed. The agency is considering the option of providing funds for the development of equipment and research, The Verge reports with reference to Thomas Zurbuhen, NASA Deputy Division for Scientific Missions. However, NASA does not expect all 9 enterprises to succeed in conquering the Moon.

The CLPS program will be the first step towards re-sending a man to the Moon. President Trump signed the relevant directive in December 2017. Since then, the agency has been developing a complex plan for its implementation. Small scientific devices, created and launched by private companies, should expand the concept of resources available on the Moon. For example, to find ice, which is useful for creating rocket fuel. The technologies tested on the vehicles will be able to create a full-fledged pilot-controlled lander module. The agency also plans to build the Gateway orbital station, which will serve as a kind of outpost for astronauts and ships traveling to the Moon.