EM-1 Flight to be Joined by CubeSat Moon Mission

EM-1 Flight to be Joined by CubeSat Moon Mission

NASA has signed a contract with American global aerospace, defense, security and advanced technologies company Lockheed Martin for setting up the SkyFire lunar flyby mission. The contract comes on the back of the agency’s plan to offer a journey to several secondary payloads during the debut mission for the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion.

The 6U CubeSat will be accompanying a team of 13 small spacecraft that will travel uphill on the Exploration Mission -1 (EM-1) flight, which is set to take place in 2018. NASA has been aiming the debut mission for SLS and Orion to be joined in by secondary payloads, like Cubesats, since 2015. Cubesats will be travelling on the stage adapter of Orion before being deployed.

These secondary payloads will be responsible for playing a secondary part in the analysis of lunar and human biology facets of spaceflight, along with Near Earth Asteroid reconnaissance. There were reasons behind deciding co-manifestation of small Cubesat payloads on EM-1. A primary reason was detecting Strategic Knowledge Gaps (SKGs), which are required to be resolved before commissioning human missions into the inner solar system.

Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) division of the Human Exploration Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) detected “human health/performance in high-radiation environments, lunar resource potential, and human NEA mission target identification and interaction with NEA surface,” as the SKGs.

The lunar flyby of SkyFire, a 6U CubeSat, will lead the way of a new infrared technology that will allow the scientists to fill in the strategic fissures in lunar data, which will impact the human space exploration efforts in future, according to Lockheed Martin’s SkyFire Project Manager, John Ringelberg. He added that it is extremely exhilarating to join hands with NASA on yet another component of the Orion and Space Launch System EM-1 flight. SkyFire is a public-private partnership between the company and NASA.


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