Adelaide-based space exploration company Fleet Space Technologies is heading for the dark side of the Moon on a mission that lays the foundations for sustaining human life on the lunar surface.
In partnership with US-based space transportation company Firefly Aerospace, Fleet Space plans to deploy its SPIDER seismic technology on the Moon’s surface aboard Firefly’s Blue Ghost lunar lander as part of Firefly’s second lunar mission in 2026.
Firefly’s mission will also be carrying payloads from NASA and the European Space Agency as part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative which is designed to deliver science and technology to the lunar surface.
Fleet Space, which secured $50 million from a Series C funding round in May, was earlier this year awarded a $4 million contract by the Australian Space Agency for its Moon to Mars Demonstrator Program to harness seismic data from the Moon’s south pole.
The funding is being used to develop SPIDER (Seismic Payload for Interplanetary Discovery, Exploration and Research), a geophysical device that will record the natural seismic waves in the Moon’s subsurface to examine its mineral profile and search for water ice deposits.
Fleet says the SPIDER technology positions Australia at the forefront of lunar exploration and hopes of developing permanent infrastructure for humans on the Moon.
“Humanity is on the brink of making tremendous strides in our scientific understanding of the lunar regolith by using advanced seismic technologies to acquire deeper insights about the Moon’s subsurface,” says Fleet Space Technologies co-founder and chief exploration officer Matt Pearson.
“Technologies like SPIDER will become key enablers of our long-term efforts to sustain life on the Moon and beyond.
“Fleet is honoured to contribute our groundbreaking passive seismic technology to advance research that will enable the development of permanent infrastructure capable of supporting human life on other worlds.
“As the first Australian seismic technology to land on the Moon, we’re proud to take the first step of Australia’s 7 Sisters mission to explore the Moon and Mars in alignment with NASA’s Artemis program.”
The Australian Space Agency has declared Fleet’s partnership with Firefly as an important milestone for Australia’s space technology sector.
“SPIDER embodies high-tech Australian ingenuity that can make Australia a valuable contributor to international lunar exploration efforts as part of NASA’s Artemis program,” says Enrico Palermo, head of the Australian Space Agency.
“Innovating for the harsh environment in space, where resources like water are scarce, drives a shift in engineering approach that ultimately advances technology and sustainable practices here on Earth.”
Firefly Aerospace CEO Bill Weber sees its mission with Fleet Space as delivering a ‘critical building block for future human and robotic missions to come’.
“Firefly proudly supports the growing lunar economy across the United States, Europe, and now Australia, and we invite additional Artemis Accords nations to join us as we collectively build a sustainable presence on the Moon,” he says.
In tandem with the Fleet Space payload, Firefly’s 2026 lunar mission will also deliver the European Space Agency’s Lunar Pathfinder satellite to lunar orbit and NASA’s LuSEE-Night radio telescope to the lunar surface as part of the CLPS initiative by NASA.
Firefly says it has already completed the preliminary design review for Blue Ghost Mission 2 and is wrapping up the final milestones for its first mission to the Moon in 2024.
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