Upcoming Launch: Astrobotic’s Peregrine Lunar Lander Set to Blast Off in January

Astrobotic’s first lunar lander is ready for lift-off. The company announced Tuesday that the lander, called Peregrine, has completed final checkouts and fueling after it was mated with United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur rocket last month. Astrobotic is executing the mission as part of a $79.5 million contract from NASA under the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic is one of a handful of commercial players betting that there will be a thriving market for lunar payload delivery services. Other companies include Intuitive Machines, which is aiming to launch its first lander just days after Peregrine, on January 12, as well as Firefly Aerospace and Japanese firm ispace, which had a failed lunar launch earlier this year.

Astrobotic’s highly anticipated lunar lander, Peregrine, is poised for liftoff in the coming days. The groundbreaking lander has recently completed its final preparations, including fueling and thorough checkouts, following its integration with United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur rocket in the previous month. With all systems in place, the company is all set to kick off its momentous lunar journey on January 8, marking a historic milestone for the aerospace industry.

“If you’ve been following the lunar industry, you understand landing on the Moon’s surface is incredibly difficult.”

– Astrobotic CEO John Thornton

Thornton expressed his confidence in the tremendous effort displayed by the Astrobotic team during the flight reviews, spacecraft testing, and major hardware integrations. “We are ready for launch, and for landing,” he added. With the launch date inching closer, excitement and anticipation are at an all-time high for the company and the industry as a whole.

The Peregrine lander, standing at an impressive two meters tall, will be carrying 20 payloads for both government and commercial customers. With its maximum payload capacity of 90 kilograms, the lander is expected to operate for roughly 192 hours upon landing on the lunar surface, providing essential power and communication services to the payloads. According to the payload user’s guide on Astrobotic’s website, the company is charging an estimated $1.2 million per kilogram for delivering mass to the moon’s surface.

This groundbreaking mission is part of a $79.5 million contract from NASA under the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. Additionally, Astrobotic has also been awarded a second CLPS contract to launch its much larger Griffin lander, scheduled for late 2024.

Based in Pittsburgh, Astrobotic is one of the leading commercial players vying for a lucrative market of lunar payload delivery services. Other companies include Intuitive Machines, which is set to launch its first lander just days after Peregrine on January 12. Other competitors include Firefly Aerospace and Japanese firm ispace, who unfortunately had a failed lunar launch earlier this year.

Following its launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida, Peregrine will embark on a series of burns to position itself for a successful landing on the moon on February 23. This crucial mission not only has much on the line for Astrobotic but also for United Launch Alliance, as it marks the first-ever flight of its Vulcan Centaur rocket. The highly anticipated rocket has faced numerous delays, pushing back its maiden flight by several years. ULA intends to launch multiple Vulcan flights next year and ultimately fulfill a substantial 38-launch contract with industry giant Amazon for its Project Kuiper satellite broadband constellation.

Originally aiming for a December 24 launch, Astrobotic and ULA have rescheduled the date to allow ULA to complete a wet dress rehearsal. The rehearsal was finally completed on December 14, paving the way for the upcoming launch.

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Dylan Williams

Dylan Williams is a multimedia storyteller with a background in video production and graphic design. He has a knack for finding and sharing unique and visually striking stories from around the world.

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