Spaceflight to Launch First Privately Funded Lunar Lander

Lunar lander (Credit: SpaceIL)

In partnership with SSL, Spaceflight will send its first rideshare mission to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Feb. 11, 2019 (Spaceflight PR) – Spaceflight, the leading satellite rideshare and mission management provider, today announced it will launch two payloads on its first rideshare mission to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). The mission is scheduled for no earlier than mid-February 2019 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 launching from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

The primary payload on the mission is a telecommunications satellite for the South East Asia region. It was built by SSL, a Maxar Technologies company, which also procured the launch vehicle. Spaceflight will manage the launch of the two secondary payloads, Israeli non-profit SpaceIL’s lunar lander, and the U.S. Air Force Research Lab’s (AFRL) experimental small satellite, S5.

This will be Spaceflight’s first mission beyond Lower Earth Orbit (LEO) and its first combined launch with SSL. In addition to securing capacity aboard the launch vehicle, Spaceflight is handling all the mission management and integration services for the lunar lander, called Beresheet (Hebrew for in the beginning), and AFRL’s spacecraft. This includes a multitude of services, from the unique aspects of pre-launch design, assembly, and integration to the final analysis and testing of the architecture before the spacecraft are encapsulated into the rocket.

A Ground-breaking Mission

While rideshare missions are becoming more and more routine, Spaceflight’s first GTO mission stands apart for several other reasons.

  • The spacecraft are headed to two different orbits. Once the Falcon 9 reaches GTO, it will separate SpaceIL’s lunar lander with a custom separation system. Beresheet will orbit Earth, gradually increasing its apogee until it can maneuver to be captured by the Moon’s gravity. It will travel to the Moon’s surface under its own power, a voyage taking nearly two months.
  • Following Beresheet’s deployment, the AFRL spacecraft, built by Blue Canyon Technologies, will remain attached to the telecommunications satellite as they continue their journey to Geostationary Orbit (GEO). Before the telecommunications satellite reaches its final GEO position, it will separate the S5 spacecraft which will then turn on and start its mission.
  • SpaceIL’s four-legged lunar spacecraft, which was competing in the Google Lunar XPrize, will be the smallest spacecraft to land on the Moon, at only 1,322 pounds, or 600 kilograms. Once it has completed its mission, Beresheet will represent Israel’s first spacecraft and the world’s first privately funded spacecraft to reach the Moon. Its mission is to transmit photos and video of its new home and conduct scientific measurements. Upon the mission’s completion, it will remain as a lunar time capsule commemorating this historic accomplishment.

“This is an important mission for Spaceflight as we expand and evolve our customer offerings,” said Curt Blake, CEO of Spaceflight. “The launches we pursue continue to get more sophisticated and demonstrate that our expertise goes beyond identifying and scheduling launches. We also offer valuable integration and deployment services that enable our customers to reach space in a cost-effective manner and get to their desired orbit successfully. With this mission, Spaceflight is demonstrating that the Moon is in reach.”

This mission marks Spaceflight’s inaugural launch of 2019 and the first mission following SSO-A, its historic dedicated Falcon 9 rideshare mission, which launched 64 unique smallsats from 34 organizations from 17 countries in December 2018. To date, the company has negotiated the launch of more than 200 satellites and has plans for approximately 10 missions in 2019 launching nearly 100 payloads.

About Spaceflight

Spaceflight is revolutionizing the business of spaceflight by delivering a new model for accessing space. A comprehensive launch services and mission management provider, the company provides a straightforward and cost-effective suite of products and services including state-of-the-art satellite infrastructure and rideshare launch offerings that enable commercial and government entities to achieve their mission goals on time and on budget. A service offering of Spaceflight Industries in Seattle, Spaceflight provides its services through a global network of partners, ground stations and launch vehicle providers. For more information, visit http://www.spaceflight.com.