YouTuber Jimmy Donaldson, also known as MrBeast, has purchased space aboard the NASA-sponsored Astrobotic Technology mission to the Moon. The mission is slated to be launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Vulcan rocket in June 2021.
In a January 24 announcement, Donaldson explained that for $10 anyone could submit a photo that would be sent to the Moon. The popular YouTuber described the project as “the universe’s first digital time capsule.”
“A company called Astrobotics and NASA are putting a lander on the Moon later this year and we managed to get space on their lander to put a hard drive. And I thought it would be fun to let you guys put whatever you want on that hard drive on the Moon,” said Donalson in a livestream shortly after the initial announcement.
Astrobotic was awarded a $79.5-million contract to deliver 14 NASA payloads to the Moon aboard Peregrine Mission One in May 2019 as part of the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. The mission will be the first American lander to touch down on the lunar surface since Apollo 17 almost 50 years ago.
Unlike previous NASA missions to the Moon, CLPS missions will see the agency purchase space aboard commercial landers rather than purchasing, launching, and managing the missions themselves. As a result, Astrobotic is free to offer any remaining space aboard the lander not occupied by NASA payloads to commercial customers.
The MrBeast hard drive, with its audience submissions, will be carried aboard Peregrine Mission One as a commercial customer. According to an October 2019 Astrbotic press release, the MrBeast hard drive will join at least 18 other payloads including seven rovers from six countries, instruments from four countries, and other unique payloads like the hard drive from five countries.