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Astrobotic's Peregrine launches to the Moon

The first commercial lander, and first American one in over 50 years

Astrobotic’s Peregrine Mission One has successfully launched to the Moon. Peregrine is now flying solo on its way to the Moon, where it will attempt a lunar landing on February 23, 2024. Peregrine could become the first commercial lander, and first American lander in over 50 years, to land on the Moon.

At 2:18am ET on January 8, 2024, the company’s Peregrine Lunar Lander lifted off on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Peregrine launched on Vulcan’s maiden flight, known as Cert-1. Vulcan lifted Peregrine to an altitude of approximately 500 km above the Earth, where, at approximately 50 minutes after launch, the lander separated from the rocket and successfully powered on. Following separation, Astrobotic successfully contacted the lander and began receiving telemetry. 

Peregrine Mission One is the first successful launch under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative. The mission is delivering scientific instruments and payloads to the Moon’s Gruithuisen Domes region. The NASA instruments aboard Peregrine will help NASA prepare for the Artemis program’s missions to enable a sustained human presence on the Moon. 

Peregrine is carrying a total of 20 payloads from seven nations and 16 commercial customers. The payloads come from space agencies, universities, companies, and individuals across the globe. This includes the first lunar surface payloads from the Mexican and German space agencies, and the first lunar payloads from the countries of the United Kingdom, Hungary, and Seychelles. One of the payloads, DHL MoonBox, contains mementos and messages from over 100,000 individuals around the world.

The Peregrine lander itself, which was assembled at Astrobotic’s headquarters in Pittsburgh, PA, includes parts manufactured by hundreds of suppliers from across the US, including 184 companies in Pennsylvania alone. 

Following Peregrine Mission One, Astrobotic plans to continue its lunar exploration efforts with the launch of Griffin Mission One in late 2024. Griffin, the largest lunar lander since the Apollo lunar module, will carry NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) to the south pole of the Moon. On arrival, VIPER will search for the presence of water ice in the permanently shadowed regions of Mons Mouton. 

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AVIONEWS - World Aeronautical Press Agency