Washington, In a significant leap back to lunar exploration, the United States is set to attempt a historic unmanned Moon landing on January 25, marking a revival more than 50 years after the last Apollo mission. Astrobotic, an American company, has developed the lander named Peregrine, which will be the vanguard of this mission with no human occupants.
Astrobotic CEO John Thornton revealed that the Peregrine lander will carry NASA instruments designed to study the lunar environment, aligning with the preparations for NASA’s Artemis manned missions. The collaboration is part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, which commissions U.S. companies to transport scientific experiments and technologies to the Moon under fixed-price contracts.
Speaking at a press briefing in Pittsburgh, Thornton emphasized the economic significance, stating, “One of the big challenges of what we’re attempting here is attempting a launch and landing on the surface Moon for a fraction of what it would otherwise cost.” The mission, scheduled for takeoff on December 24 from Florida aboard the inaugural flight of the new Vulcan Centaur rocket from the ULA industrial group, aims to contribute to the development of a lunar economy by providing cost-effective transport services.
Highlighting the inherent challenges, Thornton acknowledged the daunting nature of the mission, citing the historical success rate of lunar surface missions. The autonomous descent of the Peregrine lander will be closely monitored from Astrobotic’s control center during this pioneering endeavor. The launch and subsequent lunar landing mark a crucial step in advancing space exploration capabilities while minimizing costs.