Advanced Space was given a $72 million contract by the Air Force Research Laboratory to create an experimental spacecraft that will observe deep space, which is outside the orbit of the Earth.
The Cislunar Highway Patrol System (CHPS), formerly known as Oracle, is a project run by AFRL's Space Vehicles Directorate.
According to AFRL, the name was chosen to honour the achievements of the Apollo programme and the U.S. Space Force's dedication to assisting NASA as they make their way back to the moon.
The Oracle spacecraft will launch in late 2025 and carry out experiments for two years in orbit.
According to James Frith, the program's main investigator, "our key aims are to enhance approaches to find previously undiscovered objects through search and discovery, to detect small or distant objects, and to research spacecraft location and navigation in the XGEO region."
The term "XGEO" refers to the area past geosynchronous orbit and all the way to the moon. Oracle will function roughly 200,000 miles from Earth, close to the Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 1. In contrast, the GEO belt is located around 22,000 miles above Earth.
Oracle also wants to advance the green propellant technology developed by AFRL. Although there are currently no concrete plans to refuel Oracle, Frith stated that AFRL aims to promote both civil and commercial development of on-orbit refueling services.