A NASA-contracted lunar lander bound for the moon’s South Pole will launch on a SpaceX rocket in late 2022.
Earlier this year, NASA selected Masten Space Systems to manage the delivery of eight different payloads to the moon’s pole as part of the agency’s Artemis program designed to land humans in the same region in 2024. Masten has hired SpaceX to launch its XL-1 lunar lander for the delivery, the company announced on Wednesday (Aug. 26).
“Having SpaceX’s proven launch success behind us is not only great for us, but it’s great for our customers,” Masten CEO Sean Mahoney said in a statement. “We share a common vision with SpaceX and that makes this more than a partnership. It’s more like a dream team.”
Masten’s flight represents the second installment of NASA’s lunar-delivery program; the first two contracts in the initiative went to Intuitive Machines (which also hired SpaceX to handle the launch) and Astrobotic (which hired United Launch Alliance). Those missions will launch next year.
The instruments on Masten’s lander will focus on tasks like mapping the moon’s composition and temperature, photographing the lunar geology and sampling nearby material. The lander will also carry a small rover that will look for signs of water on the moon.