US spacecraft company Firefly Aerospace Inc. has announced that it has signed an IP and engineering support agreement with Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) for technology based on its Beresheet lunar lander. Firefly Aerospace is one of the nine companies selected by NASA to participate in the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program to deliver science payloads to the surface of the moon.
SpaceIL's Beresheet moon mission for which IAI provided the technology, successfully reached the moon in April but failed at the final hurdle by crashing onto the moon's surface. The Beresheet moonshot's biggest achievement was to reach the moon at a cost of just $100 million, compared with the billions paid by the world's major space powers who have reached the moon.
Firefly CEO Dr. Tom Markusic said, "Firefly is excited to partner with IAI in architecting a complete lunar science mission for NASA's CLPS initiative. IAI's culture of engineering innovation and bold vision make our partnership a perfect solution for America as the nation realizes its return to the moon. This agreement with IAI will allow Firefly to build on our momentum and expand our lunar capabilities by creating a U.S.-built version of IAI's historic lunar lander. Having access to flight proven lunar lander technology and the expertise of IAI engineers makes Firefly well placed to gain a foothold in the cislunar market."
IAI EVP and general manager Systems, Missiles & Space Group Boaz Levi said, "The experience gained in the Beresheet Moon mission co-developed with SpaceIL puts IAI at the forefront of lunar lander technology and enables us to undertake additional lunar missions with proven technology and significant engineering experience and knowhow. We are proud to partner with Firefly Aerospace and offer NASA our experience in rapid and affordable lunar missions, including all lessons learned from the Beresheet endeavor. We see in Firefly a similar mix of courage and technological knowledge that fits the IAI spirit and will drive us to the Moon quickly and robustly. This is an additional badge of honor to the Israeli space industry, which IAI, Israel Space House, leads."
Firefly VP Mission Assurance Shea Ferring said, "NASA and the US will greatly benefit from IAI's next generation lander design, leveraging extensive Beresheet lander design and flight operations experience. 'Genesis', a predominately US built version of the lander, delivers a low-cost integrated solution for reliable lunar surface missions."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on July 10, 2019
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