WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Lockheed Martin has just signed a contract with the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for a miniature infrared satellite to provide scientists with advanced imaging of the Moon, the company announced in a press release on Monday.
"SkyFire’s lunar flyby will pioneer brand new infrared technology, enabling scientists to fill strategic gaps in lunar knowledge that have implications for future human space exploration," SkyFire project manager John Ringelberg said.
The SkyFire 6U CubeSat, a small, lightweight imaging satellite, is set to be deployed in 2018 along with 12 other CubeSats on the Orion Exploration Mission-1.
According to the release, the Moon will be only a "proving ground" for possible future SkyFire missions.
"If successful, the infrared system on SkyFire could eventually be used for cost-effective studies of a planet’s resources before humans arrive," Lockheed Martin stated.
The SkyFire deployment is part of NASA’s NextSTEP public-private partnership, a program to enlist the help of private companies, universities and nonprofit organizations to develop deep space exploration capabilities to support future human space flight missions.