Biz Briefs: L3Harris Wins $765.5M Imager Contract, Firefly to Deliver Payloads to Lunar Far Side, Axiom to Fly 3rd ISS Mission & Unveils New Moon Suit (Image Credit: Parabolic Arc)
NASA has awarded L3Harris Technologies a $765.5 million contract to developer the GeoXO Imager (GXI) for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Geostationary Extended Observations (GeoXO) weather satellite program. NASA served as the contracting authority for the program.
GXI is a mult-channel radiometer that will provide real-time, high-resolution visible and infrared imagery of the Western Hemisphere for the purpose of weather forecasting.
“GXI will be used for a wide range of applications related to severe storms, hurricanes, aviation, natural hazards, the atmosphere and ocean. GXI will monitor cloud formation, atmospheric motion, convection, land surface temperature, fire, smoke, dust, volcanic ash plumes, aerosols, air quality, vegetative health, and more,” NASA said in a press release.
L3Harris will develop two flight instruments under the cost-plus-award-fee contract. The agreement includes options for additional instruments.
Firefly Wins NASA Award for Lunar Far Side Mission
Firefly Aerospace has won a $112 million contract from NASA to deliver two payloads to the far side of the moon and a European data relay satellite the lander will use to communicate with Earth. The mission is scheduled for 2026.
The lander will deliver the Lunar Surface Electromagnetics Experiment-Night (LuSEE-Night) to the surface. LuSEE-Night will use deployable antennas and radio receivers to observe sensitive radio waves from a period that began 370,000 years after the Big Bang. The lunar far side is an excellent location to make these observations because it is shielded from the radio signals generated by Earth.
The European Space Agency’s Lunar Pathfinder will relay signals from the lander to controllers on Earth. The orbiter was designed and developed by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.
NASA awarded the contract under its Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, which pays companies to deliver payloads to the moon.
Axiom Space to Fly Third Private ISS Mission
Axiom Space and NASA have signed an agreement for a third private astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS) that is scheduled for November. An Axiom Space astronaut and three paying customers are expected to spend 14 days at the station.
Axiom Space has not yet revealed who will fly the mission. Last September, the company signed an agreement with the government of Turkey to fly the first Turkish citizen to space in 2023.
Axiom Space conducted the first fully private mission to ISS in April 22. Former NASA astronaut commanded the mission with Michael López-Alegría with spaceflight participants American Larry Connor, Canadian Mark Pathy and Israeli Eytan Stibbe.
Former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson will command the second mission with American John Shoffner and Saudis Ali AlQarni and Rayyanah Barnawi.
Axiom & NASA Unveil New Moon Suit
On Wednesday, Axiom and NASA unveiled a prototype of a next-generation suit that Artemis astronauts will wear when they walk on the lunar surface later this decade.
The Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit leveraged work that NASA did in developing a new spacesuit that will provide increased flexibility and greater protection against the harsh lunar environment than those worn by Apollo astronauts more than 50 years ago.
Axiom said it would deliver a full fleet of training lunar suits to NASA by late this summer.