Elon Musk’s SpaceX wins contract to launch NASA-backed Moon mission

NASA SpaceX

Elon Musk’s SpaceX company has been picked to launch a NASA-funded mission to the Moon in 2022.

It involves launching a lunar lander to the Moon’s South Pole and is part of NASA’s Artemis program that has the ultimate aim of landing humans in the region by 2024.

Earlier this year, NASA announced it had picked US company Masten Space Systems to manage the delivery of eight different payloads to the Moon as part of Artemis.

Masten has hired SpaceX to carry the XL-1 lunar lander on a Falcon 9 rocket, the company announced.

“Having SpaceX’s proven launch success behind us is not only great for us, but it’s great for our customers,” Masten CEO Sean Mahoney said.

“We share a common vision with SpaceX and that makes this more than a partnership. It’s more like a dream team.”

Compared with other Moon landers, the Masten XL-1 is quite large, weighing 2675 kg when fully fuelled.

Instruments on the lunar lander will monitor the Moon’s composition and temperature, photograph lunar geology and sample nearby material.

The lander will also carry a small rover that will search for signs of water.

The Masten deal is the fourth Moon lander launch contract awarded to SpaceX.

Meanwhile, NASA and SpaceX have scheduled October 23 for the first operational flight with astronauts of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station.

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