Skip to main content

NASA-sponsored moon mission will launch on a SpaceX rocket

An artist's depiction of Masten's lunar lander on the surface of the moon.
An artist's depiction of Masten's lunar lander on the surface of the moon.
(Image: © Masten Space Systems)

A NASA-contracted lunar lander bound for the moon's South Pole will launch on a SpaceX rocket in late 2022.

Earlier this year, NASA selected Masten Space Systems to manage the delivery of eight different payloads to the moon's pole as part of the agency's Artemis program designed to land humans in the same region in 2024. Masten has hired SpaceX to launch its XL-1 lunar lander for the delivery, the company announced on Wednesday (Aug. 26).

"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 in a statement. "We share a common vision with SpaceX and that makes this more than a partnership. It's more like a dream team."

Related: Beacon of hope? NASA sees inspiration parallels between Apollo and Artemis moonshots

Masten's flight represents the second installment of NASA's lunar-delivery program; the first two contracts in the initiative went to Intuitive Machines (which also hired SpaceX to handle the launch) and Astrobotic (which hired United Launch Alliance). Those missions will launch next year.

The instruments on Masten's lander will focus on tasks like mapping the moon's composition and temperature, photographing the lunar geology and sampling nearby material. The lander will also carry a small rover that will look for signs of water on the moon.

Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels@space.com or follow her on Twitter @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. 

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

  • Hughjer
    I see the day quickly approaching where SpaceX dictates these decisions from the front end, while NASA slowly slips into nothingness. They are quickly becoming a middle-man at best, but their are other implications with the fast ascension of SpaceX in the last few of years: This could include flight training for future pilots/astronauts. If Musk does indeed build 1,000 Starships, do you think there will be enough government funding for NASA to field and train thousands of pilots under multiple programs, or do you think SpaceX would rather just absorb it with their own capital? I think the latter makes much more sense.
    Reply
  • ChrisA
    Hughjer said:
    I see the day quickly approaching where SpaceX dictates these decisions from the front end, while NASA slowly slips into nothingness. They are quickly becoming a middle-man at best, but their are other implications with the fast ascension of SpaceX in the last few of years: This could include flight training for future pilots/astronauts. If Musk does indeed build 1,000 Starships, do you think there will be enough government funding for NASA to field and train thousands of pilots under multiple programs, or do you think SpaceX would rather just absorb it with their own capital? I think the latter makes much more sense.


    Not at all NASA is the customer and the source of funding for SpaceX. SpaceX can't self-fund anything without paying customers.
    Reply