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NASA Awards SpaceX, Firefly Aerospace Launch Contracts 

By | February 5, 2021

NASA’s SPHEREX mission. Photo: NASA

SpaceX will launch NASA’s SPHEREx astrophysics mission, the agency announced Feb. 4. The launch contract is worth $98.9 million, including launch service and other mission-related costs. The mission is targeted for June 2024 on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex-4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

SPHEREx — Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe Epoch of Reionization, and Ices Explorer — is a two-year astrophysics mission to survey the sky in the near-infrared light. NASA said the mission will also search for water and organic molecules in stellar nurseries, regions where stars are born. 

Separately, NASA awarded Firefly Aerospace a $93.3 million contract to deliver 10 science investigations to the Moon in 2023, using its Blue Ghost lunar lander. This is Firefly’s first award under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative, part of the Artemis program. Redwire, Advanced Solutions, and SpaceWorks Inc. are part of Firefly’s lander team. 

“Our team’s collective experience resulted in a creative technical solution to meet the needs of all these payloads, with a strong emphasis on both lunar science return and customer service through each mission phase,” commented Dr. Will Coogan, Firefly lander chief engineer.