NASA has finalized the first payloads to be carried by commercial lunar vehicles manufactured by companies involved in its commercial lunar payload service (CLPS). A total of 16 payloads, including many different scientific experiments and technical experimental devices, will be carried by landers manufactured by Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines. Both landers are scheduled to launch next year, delivering their cargo to the lunar surface and paving the way for NASA’s mission to send humans back to the moon by 2024.
Astrobotic’s Peregrine rocket will be launched by the United Launch Alliance (ULA), while Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lander will be launched to the moon by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Both landers will carry two payloads on the list, including the Laser Inverter Array (LRA) for positioning, and the Navigation Doppler lidar for Precision Speed and Range Sensing (NDL), a laser-based sensor that provides accurate navigation during descent and landing. NASA is developing both payloads to ensure a safe, controlled and targeted landing on the moon’s surface, which is critical to building a robust lunar landing system.
Astrobotic carries more cargo, and its Peregrine lander can hold more cargo, with payloads of up to 585 pounds, while Nova-C can carry up to 220 pounds. These include instruments to study the effects of landers on the lunar atmosphere, instruments for photovoltaic studies on the lunar surface, linear energy transmission spectrometers, near-infrared volatile spectrometer systems, mass spectrometers for observing lunar operation, and ion-trap mass spectrometers for observing the volatilization of matter on the lunar surface.