Ars Technicha's NASA emphasizing “speed” in its return to the Moon says:

The leader of NASA's scientific programs, Thomas Zurbuchen, said this program was designed with speed in mind, and it would tolerate some failures as it takes "shots on goal" in attempting to land on the Moon. "For us, if we have any wish, we'd like to fly this calendar year," he said. "We do not expect every launch and landing to be successful."

NASA has begun to develop a dozen payloads, some entailing scientific experiments, others to better characterize the lunar environment, for these commercial flights. Zurbuchen said those payloads will be ready for missions before the end of 2019 but that the providers will set the schedules for when they are ready.

Question: What are the dozen payloads? Is there a list with a short description of each? Does this collection have a nick-name? e.g. "Dirty Dozen" or better yet The Good, The Bad and The Ugly?

From Phys.org's NASA heading back to Moon soon, and this time to stay:

Before this manned program, NASA is also pushing to send scientific instruments and other technological tools to the Moon in 2020 or even before the end of this year.

The agency is also calling for quick-turnaround bids to manufacture and launch such instruments, offering financial incentives to make it happen fast.

"We care about speed," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate. "We do not expect that every one of those launches or every one of those landings will be successful. We are taking risks."

  • $\begingroup$ "in 2020 or even before the end of this year" So if there is no launch in 2019, it may be done within December 2020. But any scientific payload to be launched in that time interval should be designed and build already, just some months left for carefull tests and fixing some bugs. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Commented Feb 18, 2019 at 16:04

1 Answer 1


The thirteen payloads are all CubeSats. The technology on them is mostly focused on proving high performance EP for CubeSats and Lunar water mapping.

Here is a partial list as of August 2018 enter image description here

More information can be found here

Here's a partial list as of Feb. 3, 2016 thought things may have changed in the last three years:

The secondary payloads were selected through a series of announcements of flight opportunities, a NASA challenge and negotiations with NASA’s international partners.

NASA selected two payloads through the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) Broad Agency Announcement:

  • Skyfire - Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Denver, Colorado, will develop a CubeSat to perform a lunar flyby of the moon, taking sensor data during the flyby to enhance our knowledge of the lunar surface

  • Lunar IceCube - Morehead State University, Kentucky, will build a CubeSat to search for water ice and other resources at a low orbit of only 62 miles above the surface of the moon

Three payloads were selected by NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate:

  • Near-Earth Asteroid Scout, or NEA Scout will perform reconnaissance of an asteroid, take pictures and observe its position in space

  • BioSentinel will use yeast to detect, measure and compare the impact of deep space radiation on living organisms over long durations in deep space

  • Lunar Flashlight will look for ice deposits and identify locations where resources may be extracted from the lunar surface

Two payloads were selected by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate:

  • CuSP – a “space weather station” to measure particles and magnetic fields in space, testing practicality for a network of stations to monitor space weather

  • LunaH-Map will map hydrogen within craters and other permanently shadowed regions throughout the moon’s south pole

Three additional payloads will be determined through NASA’s Cube Quest Challenge – sponsored by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and designed to foster innovations in small spacecraft propulsion and communications techniques. CubeSat builders will vie for a launch opportunity on SLS’ first flight through a competition that has four rounds, referred to as ground tournaments, leading to the selection in 2017 of the payloads to fly on the mission.

NASA has also reserved three slots for payloads from international partners. Discussions to fly those three payloads are ongoing, and they will be announced at a later time.

  • $\begingroup$ I added some of the information to avoid link-onlyness. However I also noticed that the data is over three years old. Do you know if the ones mentioned here are still slated for this mission? A lot can happen in three years. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Mar 16, 2019 at 1:53
  • $\begingroup$ Here is an updated link digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/… $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 16, 2019 at 1:57
  • $\begingroup$ thanks, ideally you would add that to your answer, or better yet, update your answer, rather than leave the best information only as a link in a comment. The idea is that answers should retain their value even when links break. Link-only answers are strongly discouraged for that (and other) reasons. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Mar 16, 2019 at 2:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is a good catch some of them have changed it looks like. I just looked for a link. I knew about LunaH, Flashlight, and Lunar IceCube. ONce I saw those I (wrongly) assumed the list would be the same. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 16, 2019 at 2:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Is this acceptable or should I include more of the updated paper in the answer? A lot of the information is redundant with your answer, but not all. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 16, 2019 at 2:26

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