Lockheed Martin (IW500/25) was awarded a new NASA contract to launch a 6U CubeSat satellite with imaging capability on a lunar mission with Orion EM-1, in 2018. The satellite, called SkyFire, will be built by Lockheed and operate in public-private partnership: the contractor will gain access for the satellite to the Orion Exploratory Mission; and NASA will receive data that SkyFire gathers during the mission.
An infrared camera will take high-quality images from a lighter, simpler satellite unit, and the low-mass payload will mean a lower project cost and easier maneuverability in space.
“The CubeSat will look for specific lunar characteristics like solar illumination areas,” stated James Russell, Lockheed Martin SkyFire principal investigator. “We’ll be able to see new things with sensors that are less costly to make and send to space.”
A Lockheed Martin development team working on the project involves “early-career engineers” working in partnership with the University of Colorado Boulder.