Astrobotic has finally unveiled the flight model of its Peregrine lunar lander. The space-focused company revealed the lander on Wednesday, April 20, 2022. This is the model that will actually fly to the Moon later this year. Astrobotic is the first company in NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative to reveal its flight model.
As such, it could become the first American spacecraft to land on the Moon following the successes of the Apollo program over 50 years ago.
Meet the Peregrine lunar lander
Astrobotic unveiled the Peregrine lunar lander at its headquarters in Pittsburgh. It’s a momentous occasion, because American space agencies haven’t landed a spacecraft to the moon since the Apollo missions in the 1960s and early ‘70s.
Several officials attended the unveiling of Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander, including Congressman Matt Cartwright, Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator and former U.S. senator, and James Reuter, Associate Administrator for NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate. Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for NASA Science Mission Directorate also attended.
Astrobotic CEO, John Thornton, says that building the Peregrine lunar lander is a dream from true.
“This is why our company was founded 15 years ago. It represents the culmination of countless hours over many years by hundreds of people to design and assemble the lander, to create the lunar delivery market, and to establish the facilities and supply chain needed to ensure the success of commercial space missions like Peregrine’s long into the future,” he said.
Locked and loaded
On top of unveiling the Peregrine lunar lander, Astrobotic also shared an image of the lander’s payload system. It will deliver 24 payloads to the Moon when it lands, including 11 from NASA. Some of the payloads include a rover from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as payloads from commercial companies. There are also some cultural messages from various people around the planet.
Astrobotic integrated the payloads directly into the Peregrine lunar lander’s flight decks. Astrobotic will install the payloads on the main part of the lander soon. Once the integration has been completed, Astrobotic will send the spacecraft through environment testing. Afterwards, the lander is set to ship to Cape Canaveral, Florida where it will undergo final prep for its launch in Q4 of 2022.
Seeing the Peregrine lunar lander almost completed is exciting. With NASA aiming to launch the first leg of the Artemis missions in May, seeing it all come together has been exciting. Of course, that first mission will only fly around the Moon. NASA plans to put mankind on the Moon once more in later missions.
For the greater populace, flying back to the Moon might not sound exciting. But there is a lot more we can do now, that we couldn’t do during the Apollo missions. That’s because technology has advanced so much in the past few decades. NASA has also previously talked about how it hopes to use the Moon as a launching point for later space-based missions. Getting the Peregrine lunar lander, and others like it, to the surface of the Moon is just one small step towards progress.
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