Humankind is one step closer to its next lunar expedition, as NASA has awarded a contract that will see foundational exploratory kit delivered to the surface of the Moon ahead of manned missions in 2024. California’s Masten Space Systems has won the $75.9 million contract to transport and operate eight payloads to the Moon’s South Pole in 2022 as part of NASA’s Artemis program.
These payloads will comprise nine scientific instruments that will assess the composition of the lunar service, test precision landing technologies and evaluate radiation on the Moon — all of which is necessary to achieve NASA’s ambition of establishing sustainable lunar exploration by 2028. It’s hoped that what we learn on and around the Moon will help NASA take the next step of sending astronauts to Mars.
“The Moon provides great scientific value, and these payloads will advance what we know and help define and improve the science astronauts can do,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “Our commercial Moon delivery efforts are seeking to demonstrate how frequent and affordable access to the lunar surface benefits both science and exploration.”