Astrobotic Technology demonstrated its nearly finished lunar lander for NASA’s CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) program, stating that the spacecraft will launch this year.
The business demonstrated its Peregrine lander, which it hopes to send to the moon on the first United Flight Alliance Vulcan Centaur launch in late 2022, at an event at its offices on April 20 addressed by Bill Nelson, the NASA Administrator, and other agency officials.
According to John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic, the lander is currently being constructed. The solar panels, payload decks, and two fuel tanks are among the tasks yet to be completed. He stated the engines are “just about done” and will be installed soon.
He was confident that the remaining work would be completed promptly. “This will be moving out to environmental testing in a couple of months,” he added, adding that it would then be shipped to the launch site later this year.
Peregrine is expected to deploy in the 4th quarter of this year, depending on the readiness of both the lander and Vulcan. “Things are on track for a fly-in Q4 of this year,” he said earlier in the day at a conference hosted by the Keystone Space Collaborative, which is a regional space industry body, citing ULA updates on Vulcan’s progress. “They’re on schedule for the close of the year, as far as we know.”
Through its CLPS program, Astrobotic will be transporting both NASA and commercial payloads. The lander will carry payloads from 7 countries, including the United States, according to Thornton.
Peregrine, he claimed, marked NASA’s reentry to the lunar surface after a half-century absence. “Nearly 50 years after Apollo, this is our nation’s first lander returning to the moon’s surface,” he remarked.
Intuitive Machines is focusing on its Nova-C lander for the IM-1 mission, and Peregrine is one of two commercial landers under development for launch next year for the CLPS program. The business originally stated that IM-1 would be released later this year, but no precise date has been specified.
Peregrine will also serve as a testbed for Astrobotic’s Griffin lander, which will bring NASA’s VIPER rover to the moon’s south pole in late 2023. “This is critical because their next mission, which will launch in ’23, will have us landing on the moon’s south pole, where the resources and water are,” Nelson said during the ceremony.
Griffin, which is about five meters in diameter and capable of carrying 500 kilograms of payload to the lunar surface, is a “monster,” according to Thornton. “Since Apollo, it’s the biggest lander of any sort.”