Astrobotic Lunar Lander Set for Christmas Eve Rocket LaunchAstrobotic Lunar Lander Set for Christmas Eve Rocket Launch
ULA’s Vulcan rocket will carry Astrobotic’s lunar lander, as well as cremated remains of individuals who wished to be “buried” in space
October 31, 2023
The United Launch Alliance (ULA) has set a launch date of Christmas Eve for the inaugural flight of its Vulcan rocket delivering Astrobotic’s lunar lander, Peregrine, as well as cremated remains from space memorial company Celestis to the moon.
The remains are those of individuals who wanted to be “buried” in space.
The launch date was announced at the CNBC Technology Executive Council Summit, where ULA’s chief executive Tony Bruno said the chosen date was due to the lander’s lighting and communication requirements..
The launch is a long time coming. Astrobotic first announced it selected ULA to carry its lander in 2019 and set an initial launch date of 2021.
Astrobotic’s Peregrine was selected as part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative in 2019. According to NASA, the mission’s objective is to “study the lunar exosphere, thermal properties and hydrogen abundance” of lunar soil.
Several technical issues with the Vulcan rocket pushed the mission back to this year. Should the December launch fail, a backup launch window is set for January.
In its CNBC interview, following the inaugural launch, ULA said it is targeting one launch every two weeks by the end of 2025. The demand will partially come from the organization’s contract to carry satellites for Amazon’s Project Kuiper, an initiative to increase global broadband connectivity by establishing a constellation of more than 3,000 satellites in low Earth orbit.
The project has seen significant delays due to issues with the rockets, though a ULA Atlas V rocket carrying two prototype satellites successfully launched at the beginning of October.
The upcoming launch is hoped to demonstrate the efficacy of ULA’s Vulcan rocket, which is due to carry out 38 launches for the constellation’s satellites and kick-start the project’s next phase.
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