The new plans involve three commercial delivery missions to the Moon’s surface, which will take place across multiple trips per year in order to aid in scientific research into Earth’s nearest neighbor. Two of those payload suites will be aimed for the far side of the Moon, heading to the Schrödinger basin, which NASA explains is a large impact crater near the lunar South Pole. One of those payloads will carry two seismometers as part of the preparation for the Artemis program to put astronauts back on the Moon and establish a long-term base there, while the other payload will deliver the Lunar Instrumentation for Thermal Exploration with Rapidity pneumatic drill as well as the Lunar Magnetotelluric Sounder, used to investigate heat flows and electrical conductivity of the basin itself.
“These investigations demonstrate the power of CLPS to deliver big science in small packages, providing access to the lunar surface to address high priority science goals for the Moon,” said director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division Lori Glaze in a statement. “When scientists analyze these new data alongside lunar samples returned from Apollo and data from our many orbital missions, they will advance our knowledge of the lunar surface and interior, and increase our understanding of crucial phenomenon such as space weathering to inform future crewed missions to the Moon and beyond.”
In other space-related news, the first seat on Blue Origin’s upcoming space tourism flight has sold for $28 million USD.