(July 12, 2019 / JNS) Firefly Aerospace Inc., a manufacturer of economical and dependable launch vehicles, spacecraft and in-space services, announced on Tuesday that it has signed an intellectual property and engineering support agreement with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) for technology based on its “Beresheet” lunar spacecraft.
Firefly, based in Texas, is one of the nine companies selected by NASA to participate in the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program to deliver science payloads to the surface of the moon.
A payload is a vehicle that can include passengers, scientific experiments or instruments and other equipment.
“Firefly is excited to partner with IAI in architecting a complete lunar science mission for NASA’s CLPS initiative. IAI’s culture of engineering innovation and bold vision make our partnership a perfect solution for America as the nation realizes its return to the moon,” said Firefly CEO Tom Markusic. “This agreement with IAI will allow Firefly to build on our momentum and expand our lunar capabilities by creating a U.S.-built version of IAI’s historic lunar lander. Having access to flight proven lunar lander technology and the expertise of IAI engineers makes Firefly well-placed to gain a foothold in the cislunar market.”
“The experience gained in the ‘Beresheet’ moon mission co-developed with SpaceIL puts IAI at the forefront of lunar lander technology, and enables us to undertake additional lunar missions with proven technology and significant engineering experience and know-how,” said Boaz Levi, executive vice president and general manager of Systems, Missiles & Space Group.
“We are proud to partner with Firefly Aerospace and offer NASA our experience in rapid and affordable lunar missions, including all lessons learned from the ‘Beresheet’ endeavor,” he continued. “We see in Firefly a similar mix of courage and technological knowledge that fits the IAI spirit and will drive us to the moon quickly and robustly. This is an additional badge of honor to the Israeli space industry, which IAI, Israel Space House, leads.”
However, SpaceIL announced last month that it will not make a second attempt to successfully land on the moon and instead seek a new challenge.
Israel nearly became the fourth country, following the United States, China and Russia, to successfully land a craft on the moon as “Beresheet,” save for a last-minute issue with its main engine just before touchdown in mid-April that caused it to crash into the lunar surface.