General Atomics selects Firefly to launch NASA Earth science instrument – SpaceNews

WASHINGTON — Normal Atomics chosen Firefly Aerospace to launch a small Earth science satellite tv for pc for NASA on an Alpha rocket in 2022.

Normal Atomics Electromagnetic Methods introduced Feb. 18 that it’ll launch its Orbital Check Mattress (OTB) 2 satellite tv for pc on Firefly’s Alpha rocket from Vandenberg Air Drive Base in California. The businesses didn’t disclose the phrases of the contract.

OTB-2 will carry a NASA instrument, the Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols (MAIA), supposed to review particulate matter air air pollution in city areas and assist scientists perceive their results on human well being. The spacecraft will function in a polar orbit at an altitude of 740 kilometers.

In a press release, Scott Forney, president of Normal Atomics Electromagnetic Methods, mentioned the contract leveraged “Firefly’s ingenious launch capabilities with our novel strategy to satellite tv for pc design and growth” however didn’t clarify why the corporate chosen a rocket but to make its first launch past stating that Alpha “meets all technical and efficiency necessities” for the mission.

Normal Atomics had the flexibility to pick the launch car for the mission, fairly than NASA, due to the character of its contract with the company. NASA awarded Normal Atomics the contract to fly the MAIA instrument by means of its Earth Enterprise Instrument program, which flies devices as hosted payloads on spacecraft or the Worldwide House Station. Normal Atomics gained a $38.5 million contract from NASA in August 2018 to fly the MAIA instrument, a complete which included each the spacecraft and launch companies.

OTB-2 is a bigger model of the corporate’s OTB smallsat, which launched in 2019 as a part of the House Check Program 2 mission on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy. That spacecraft hosted a number of payloads, together with NASA’s Deep House Atomic Clock and a modular photo voltaic array developed by the Air Drive Analysis Laboratory.

The MAIA contract is the newest in a collection of awards for Firefly because it nears the primary launch of its Alpha rocket. In December, the company won a NASA Venture Class Launch Services launch contract valued at $9.eight million to launch two units of cubesats into polar orbits. It gained a $93.3 million contract from NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program Feb. four for the 2023 launch of the corporate’s Blue Ghost lander carrying NASA payloads. That lander shall be launched on one other firm’s rocket fairly than Alpha.

The primary Alpha rocket is presently present process launch preparations at Vandenberg. Tom Markusic, chief government of Firefly, mentioned Jan. 26 that the launch would take place in a “few short weeks,” however the firm has not but introduced a selected launch date.

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