This will be the first US spacecraft to land on the moon since Apollo

This will be the first US spacecraft to land on the moon since Apollo

Astrobotics has finally provided a glimpse of the rover that will carry science payloads to the lunar surface. The company revealed the final version of its Peregrine Moon lander ahead of its launch in the last quarter of the year. It’s a simple exterior design that looks like an upturned bowl, but that’d be enough to carry 24 missions, including 11 items from NASA, the Carnegie Mellon spacecraft, special shipping, and even “cultural messages” from Earth.

Peregrine falcons are just over six feet tall and can carry up to 100 kilograms (about 220 pounds on the ground). And most importantly for customers, it is relatively inexpensive – it costs $1.2 million per kilogram to carry payloads to the lunar surface ($300,000 to Earth orbit). This sounds expensive, but it’s a steal compared to the cost of launching the missiles. SpaceX is now charging $67 million for each Falcon 9 launch, and that’s “only” it reaches Earth orbit.

The Astrobotic team has not yet finished incorporating payloads, conducting environmental testing, and shipping Peregrine to Cape Canaveral, where it will be launched aboard a ULA Vulcan Centaur rocket. However, payloads have already been integrated into flight platforms.

The machine must make history if and when it succeeded. Peregrine is expected to be the first US spacecraft to (properly) land on the Moon since the end of the Apollo program. Previous missions such as Lunar Prospector, LCROSS, GRAIL and LADEE ended in intentional accidents. The Astrobot effort won’t be as significant as the landing of the Artemis crew, but it will help highlight humanity’s renewed interest in being on the Moon.

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