NASA plans to send the Orion unmanned spacecraft and 13 CubeSats to deep space onboard the Boeing-built Space Launch System in 2018.
“The 13 CubeSats that will fly to deep space as secondary payloads aboard SLS on [Exploration Mission-1] showcase the intersection of science and technology, and advance our journey to Mars,” Dava Newman, NASA’s deputy administrator, said in a statement issued Wednesday.
NASA picked Skyfire and Lunar IceCube payloads through a broad agency announcement for the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships program.
Lockheed Martin’s space systems company will build the Skyfire CubeSat that will work to gather sensor-based data on the lunar surface during a lunar flyby of the moon, while Morehead State University’s Lunar IceCube will look for resources such as water ice 62 miles above the moon’s surface.
Other CubeSats the space agency selected for EM-1 include the Near-Earth Asteroid Scout, BioSentinel, Lunar Flashlight, CuSP and LunaH-Map.
NASA will pick three more payloads through the space technology mission directorate’s Cube Quest Challenge and three more CubeSats through negotiations with foreign partners.