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March 3, 2024

Private Moonshot: Peregrine Lander Poised for Historic Lunar Landing Attempt

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Jan 5, 2024

NASA is gearing up for the launch of the Peregrine lunar lander, built by Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic Technology. If successful, it would mark the first private soft landing on the Moon in history.

Countdown Underway for January 8 Liftoff

The Peregrine lander is slated to launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on January 8. Liftoff is scheduled for 2:40 a.m. EST.

This will kick off Astrobotic’s Mission One, the company’s first contracted delivery flight to the Moon. It will attempt to land the Peregrine spacecraft in Lacus Mortis, a large crater on the near side of the Moon, in early March.

Peregrine will carry 11 payloads from NASA and other customers that will conduct science investigations and technology demonstrations over the course of a lunar day, equivalent to about 14 Earth days.

NASA Partnering with NewSpace Startup

Astrobotic was selected as one of the first companies to deliver scientific payloads to the Moon through NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative. CLPS taps the growing private sector space industry to ferry instruments and technology experiments to the lunar surface.

The goals are to gain new scientific insights, develop capabilities for future human missions, and establish a sustainable presence on and around the Moon.

Peregrine Mission One Key Facts

- Payload: 11 NASA & commercial payloads 
- Landing site: Lacus Mortis crater  
- Planned landing date: Early March 2024
- Landing method: Autonomous precision landing 
- Mission duration: 14 Earth days

In addition to the 11 contracted payloads, Peregrine will host a 14-ounce time capsule provided by the Arch Mission Foundation containing vast archives of human knowledge and culture.

Ambitious Flight Profile

The Peregrine lander will take about a month to make its way from Earth orbit to the Moon after separating from the Vulcan Centaur upper stage.

Its flight profile calls for a series of maneuvers and trajectory correction burns to refine its path before attempting a pinpoint soft landing. Peregrine will autonomously guide itself using terrain relative navigation assisted by LIDAR and other sensors.

If the descent sequence goes as planned, Peregrine will gently set down among a field of small craters and lava pits. It will then deploy solar panels to power science operations on the surface.

Diverse Payload Suite

The suite of 11 NASA and commercial payloads aboard Peregrine will conduct astrobiology, asteroid characterization, lunar resource identification, and technology demonstrations to aid future human and robotic exploration.

Instruments include cameras, spectrometers, radiation monitors, and a technology called REGOLITH that will sinter lunar soil into construction materials using focused sunlight.

Scientists hope to gain valuable new insights into the origin and evolution of the Earth-Moon system from the mission’s investigations. Findings could help inform future ambitions to establish an Artemis Base Camp at the lunar south pole.

What’s Next

In the weeks ahead, the Peregrine lander will undergo final checkouts and be integrated atop the Vulcan Centaur rocket for the trek to its Cape Canaveral launch pad.

If Mission One succeeds, Astrobotic plans to leverage its lunar lander and delivery service for a steady cadence of CLPS flights ferrying instruments to the Moon’s surface throughout this decade.

The company has over a dozen future missions already on contract. Meanwhile, NASA expects to parcel out additional delivery task orders in the coming years as the Artemis program works toward returning humans to the Moon.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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