Spaceflight Inc will have a lunar flyby soon through a rideshare mission called "GEO Pathfinder." A Sherpa EScape (Sherpa-ES) transfer vehicle will be used for the task, launched as a secondary payload with Intuitive Machines' IM-2 moon mission. The launch will take place in the fourth quarter of 2022 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
A payload from GeoJump, a smallsat geostationary ridesharing firm, will be onboard Sherpa-ES, along with an in-space fuelling payload from Orbit Fab.
This mission will exhibit Spaceflight's entire mission toolkit and capacity to perform complicated, innovative, and interesting missions beyond LEO, SVP of business development Grant Bonin said in a Business Wire report. He said that spaceflight would use a launch with a unique trajectory and our best-in-class propulsion system to slingshot around the Moon, allowing cargo to be delivered to GEO in an ecologically friendly manner.
GeoJump looks to be a new firm that offers its own ridesharing option inside Spaceflight's rideshare. The GeoJump payload will be accompanied by an Orbit Fab in-space fuelling payload, according to Spaceflight Inc.
IM-2 to Bring Payloads to Moon's South Pole
TechCrunch said that the Sherpa-ES would transport payloads for Orbit Fab, an in-orbit refueling firm that just received $10 million in investment from two major aerospace companies and GeoJump. GeoJump appears to be attempting to enter the ridesharing market, claiming to provide "a new path to [geostationary orbit]" for tiny satellites on its website. The mission will be launched on a Falcon 9 rocket by SpaceX.
The primary payload of the IM-2 mission is a robotic Nova-C lander carrying 130 kilos of cargo on its way to the lunar south pole, NASASpaceFlight said. Sherpa-ES, a propulsive orbital transfer vehicle (OTV) developed by Spaceflight Inc, is a higher-energy version of the Sherpa-NG series.
Sherpa-ES will perform a lunar flyby before returning to geostationary orbit on the GEO Pathfinder mission, cutting the duration to orbit to only 15 days and saving about 25% of the fuel required for a standard orbit raising flight profile. With only one trip through the Van Allen belt, this trajectory also results in a comparatively benign radiation environment.
Space.com said NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program would pay the recently announced firms' participation in a moon landing mission. In May of this year, the agency chose Intuitive Machines, Astrobotic, and Orbit Beyond to send research experiments and technological demos to the Moon.
NASA also announced in October 2020 that it will grant Intuitive Machines $47 million to launch a water-measuring payload to the Moon's south pole in 2022, dubbed the Polar Resources Ice Mining Experiment (PRIME-1). Intuitive announced in August 2021 that it would launch its mission on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
CLPS is intended to support NASA's Artemis program, which intends to land humans on the surface around 2024, however significant technical and financing challenges, as well as a lawsuit-related suspension in Artemis' human landing system contract, may cause the landing to be delayed.
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