(ORDO NEWS) — Astrobotic has just unveiled a flight model of its Peregrine robotic lunar lander, which is scheduled to launch to the moon later this year.
Peregrine is designed to deliver payloads to the lunar surface. Its first flight is scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year, making it the first US spacecraft to land on the moon since the Apollo program, Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic said in a statement.
Peregrine will make the first flight to the moon under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. The presentation of the spacecraft took place at the company’s headquarters on Wednesday (April 20) and was attended by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and other agency officials.
“Building a lunar lander is a dream come true,” John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic, said in a statement. “That’s why our company was founded 15 years ago.
It represents the culmination of countless hours spent by hundreds of people over the years designing and building a lunar lander, creating a market for delivering payloads to the Moon, and building the facilities and supply chain needed to ensure future success of commercial space missions like Peregrine.”
The lunar lander is being assembled at Astrobotic’s headquarters in Pittsburgh. The spacecraft is still under construction, with solar panels, two fuel tanks, payload decks and engines yet to be installed, the report said.
The Peregrine presentation is a sign that the mission is still on track to launch this year. If all goes according to plan, the spacecraft will deliver 24 payloads to the lunar surface, including 11 NASA science instruments, a rover from Carnegie Mellon University, payloads from several other companies, and cultural messages from individuals on Earth.
These payloads are already integrated into the vehicle’s flight decks, which will soon be installed on the lunar rover, Astrobotic said in a statement.
Once the integration is complete, Peregrine will embark on spacecraft environmental testing before being sent to Cape Canaveral, Florida to begin final preparations for launch in the fourth quarter of 2022,” Astrobotic said in a statement.
The Peregrine lander will be the first spacecraft to fly on the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan Centaur rocket, the successor to ULA’s Atlas V and Delta IV launch vehicles. Vulcan’s first flight was originally scheduled for 2021, but was delayed due to supply issues for the Peregrine lander.
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