NASA plans to send a cubesat on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for the Hakuto-R M1 and Lunar Flashlight mission to the Moon’s South Pole to search for water ice. This mission, called Lunar Flashlight, will be the first of its kind to use a highly reflective sail to navigate and observe the lunar surface.
The Lunar Flashlight cubesat is a small satellite measuring just four inches on each side, making it one of the smallest spacecraft ever sent to the Moon. Despite its size, the cubesat is equipped with a powerful infrared spectrometer that will be used to search for water ice on the lunar surface.
One of the main goals of the Lunar Flashlight mission is to determine the location and abundance of water ice at the Moon’s South Pole. Water ice is a valuable resource that future missions could potentially use on the Moon for drinking water and rocket fuel. This is essential if the moon will be used as a hub for launching rockets to Mars and sustaining a human presence.
The cubesat will use a highly reflective sail to navigate and observe the lunar surface. This sail, made of a material similar to that used in spacecraft heat shields, will help the cubesat maintain a stable orientation as it orbits the Moon.
Overall, the Lunar Flashlight mission represents an important step forward in our understanding of the Moon’s water ice resources and their potential for future exploration. By providing valuable insights into the location and abundance of water ice on the lunar surface, this mission will help pave the way for future missions to the Moon and beyond.
SpaceX is scheduled to launch the Lunar Flashlight cubesat on a Falcon 9 rocket as part of the Hakuto-R M1 and Lunar Flashlight mission from Cape Canaveral, FL, USA. Get the rocket launch details.