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SkyFire lunar CubeSat.jpg
The LunIR CubeSat, which will characterize and collect lunar surface data.
Mission typeTechnology demonstrator, reconnaissance
OperatorLockheed Martin Space
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft type6U CubeSat
BusTyvak Nano-Satellite Systems
ManufacturerLockheed Martin Space
Launch mass14 kg (31 lb)
Dimensions10 cm × 20 cm × 30 cm
Start of mission
Launch dateNovember 2021 (planned) [1]
RocketSLS Block 1
Launch siteKSC, LC-39B
Flyby of Moon

LunIR is a planned nanosatellite spacecraft that will fly by the Moon and collect surface spectroscopy and thermography. It is planned to fly on the Space Launch System (SLS) on Artemis 1 mission.


Its purpose is that of a Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) technology demonstration using a low-cost 6U CubeSat spacecraft. LunIR will perform a lunar flyby, collecting spectroscopy and thermography for surface characterization, remote sensing, and site selection.[2] The spacecraft includes two deployable solar panels and will have a total mass of about 14 kg (31 lb).

LunIR was selected in April 2015 by NASA's NextSTEP program (Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships) and awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin Space worth US$1.4 million for further development.[3][4][5]


LunIR will fly along other 12 CubeSats as a secondary payload mission on the maiden flight of the Space Launch System.


LunIR will also demonstrate a low thrust electric propulsion technology called electrospray propulsion to lower the spacecraft's orbit for additional science and technology mission objectives.[6]

See also[edit]

The 13 CubeSats flying in the Artemis 1 mission


  1. ^ "NASA's large SLS rocket unlikely to fly before at least late 2021". Ars Technica. 17 July 2019. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  2. ^ Williams, Greg; Crusan, Jason (April 2015). "Pioneering Space – Evolvable Mars Campaign" (PDF). NASA. Retrieved 9 March 2021. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ Morring, Frank (24 April 2015). "Habitats Could Be NASA's Next Commercial Spacecraft Buy". Aviation Week. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  4. ^ Clark, Stephen (8 April 2015). "NASA adding to list of CubeSats flying on first SLS mission". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  5. ^ Krebs, Gunter (18 May 2020). "LunIR (SkyFire)". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  6. ^ "Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) Projects". NASA. 5 May 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2021. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.