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Firefly Wins NASA Contract to Set Up Communications on the Dark Side of the Moon

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March 17, 2023

Cedar Park-based rocket company Firefly Aerospace is headed to the dark side of the moon as part of a new $112 million contract with NASA to carry research payloads in 2026.

It's a big win for the company's Blue Ghost lunar spacecraft, which will put a satellite into lunar orbit and make its drops on the surface. It's part of NASA's broader Moon-to-Mars roadmap, and it will bring a new level of communications to our moon.

Firefly’s Blue Ghost transfer vehicle and its propellant reserves will also set us up for future missions, including returning lunar samples to Earth and, someday, exploration of nearby planets like Mars and Venus.

Firefly’s first mission, Blue Ghost Mission 1, is on track for launch in 2024 and will deliver 10 NASA-sponsored payloads and two commercial payloads to a low-lying basin on the Moon’s near side. 

The news comes nearly a year after Firefly announced its Blue Ghost had passed initial critical testing, called an integration readiness review, that green lights the project for assembly.

“Our second lunar mission is something we’re celebrating as a Firefly team, as a NASA commercial provider, and most importantly, as an all-American company committed to making space exploration an achievable dream for everyone,” Firefly CEO Bill Weber stated.

The contract comes on the heels of a few other developments at Firefly.

Last month, the company reported raising $30.2 million in the first tranche of a $300 million Series C funding round, at an undisclosed valuation that's said to be higher than the previous $1 billion. Firefly says it is expanding its lineup of rockets. And the new funding and lunar mission news comes ahead of multiple planned launches in the coming months, including a demonstration of a "responsive launch" for the US Space Force.

Firefly is among a growing number of rocket startups competing with SpaceX for government and commercial contracts to expand the nation's array of satellites and space exploration vehicles.

Texas is a big player in next-generation rockets and space technologies, with SpaceX's Boca Chica launch site and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin launch site in Van Horn. A recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers named Texas the most inviting state in the US for aerospace and defense activity for the second year in a row.