Firefly Research, LLC (FFR) is pleased to propose to NASA the development of a Space Utility Vehicle (SUV) to a CDR level of fidelity. This vehicle serves as a solar electric transfer stage, offering enough Delta-V to transfer more than 500 kg of payload from Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to Low Lunar Orbit (LLO) after launch on a small lift launch vehicle. While most technologies needed for such a transfer stage are reasonably mature, the SUV is innovative in how the vehicle architecture breaks the long-held assumptions of Electric Propulsion (EP) being either slow or expensive. We are able to offer a high-power platform with rapid transit capability at a competitive cost through refueling and reuse of that platform, amortizing platform cost over multiple missions. In this section, we explain the details of this architecture, the roadmap to a commercially viable SUV including developments already underway, and the specific aspects that will benefit from SBIR funding.
1) Transfer from LEO to LLO (200 kg payload in near-term at low power, with growth path to 500 kg).
2) Transfer of Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) lunar lander from GTO to LLO, and further service as a communications relay throughout surface mission.
3) Dedicated mission from small-lift launcher to high Delta-V trajectories like lunar orbit and Earth-Moon Lagrange points.
The primary non-NASA market targeted by this platform is the GEO market. While the Northrop Grumman Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV) has already demonstrated the viability of mission extension in GEO, we will provide a similar service with the added advantage of being able to service more satellites in a shorter time span. Also, final-mile service for small satellites launch rideshare to LEO.