Although NASA was the first to send humans to the moon over 50 years ago, the federal agency now has a slew of private space companies it’s able to rely on for upcoming space missions.
One of the most recent private space companies to get NASA backing is Cedar Park-based Firefly Aerospace.
On Thursday, Firefly announced that it was awarded a $93.3 million contract from NASA for an upcoming moon mission.
With this contract, Firefly will help send 10 NASA-sponsored payloads to Mare Crisium in the moon’s Crisium basin. These payloads will be carried by Firefly’s Blue Ghost lunar lander, which is still in development. The space mission is expected to take place in 2023.
The NASA payload will help the agency explore the Mare Crisium region of the moon, and measure the region’s regolith properties and geophysical characteristics. It will also help NASA measure how the Earth’s magnetic field interacts with solar winds.
Like many other private space companies, Firefly also provides space launch solutions for commercial purposes — whether it’s for a company that needs to launch a satellite into low Earth orbit, or needs access to the Moon’s surface. Firefly says Blue Ghost will cary over 50 kilograms of commercial payloads during the 2023 lunar mission, and some of this capacity is still open.
Since its inception in 2017, Firefly has built an impressive private space company. Firefly employs about 330 people, with its headquarters located about 30 minutes north of Austin. This week, the company appointed two new members to its board of directors. These individuals bring experience working in national security and geospatial intelligence. Firefly also states that this is part of a larger plan to grow the company.
“The number of employees at Firefly has nearly doubled over the last year, and we continue to aggressively recruit top technical talent to develop our next-generation spacecraft and rockets,” CEO Dr. Tom Markusic said in a statement. “We will also be conducting a nationwide executive talent search over the coming months to provide strong leadership for the new business units. Space is expected to be the fastest growing industry of the 21st century, and Firefly is determined to be perfectly positioned to lead the way in this new emerging space economy.”
The company adds that it’s looking for both “early career and seasoned professionals” to join its team. Firefly currently has 22 job listings open on its website.