Astrobotic has unveiled their flight model of the company’s Peregrine lunar lander during a visit by top NASA and government officials to their headquarters.
The flight model, as opposed to earlier test models, is the version of Peregrine that will actually fly to the Moon on a United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur rocket. This unveiling is a sign of Peregrine’s state of readiness as the lander moves closer to its launch date, scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year.
Peregrine is the first lander in NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative to unveil its flight model, and could become the first American spacecraft to land on the Moon since the Apollo program.
Peregrine’s unveiling took place at Astrobotic’s Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, headquarters, an approximately 50,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility dedicated to developing and operating lunar spacecraft. Because the flight model must be kept free of contamination of sensitive spacecraft components, attendees were required to suit up in white coveralls and hairnets to enter the cleanroom where Peregrine is being assembled.
Present in the cleanroom were the 24 payloads that Peregrine will be delivering to the lunar surface. These include scientific instruments from three national space agencies – including 11 from NASA alone – a rover from Carnegie Mellon University, several payloads from commercial companies, and cultural messages from individuals around the Earth. The payloads are already integrated onto Peregrine’s flight decks, which are awaiting installation on the greater lander. Once Peregrine’s integration is complete, it will head to spacecraft environmental testing, before being shipped to Cape Canaveral in Florida to begin its final preparations for launch in Q4 2022.
“This lunar lander build is a dream come true,” said John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic. “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.”
Attendees of Peregrine’s unveiling included Congressman Matt Cartwright, Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science, Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator and former U.S. senator, Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, and James Reuter, Associate Administrator for the NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate. The officials also attended the inaugural conference of the Keystone Space Collaborative, a consortium of Pennsylvania companies dedicated to growing the local commercial space industry, of which Astrobotic is a member.
Astrobotic is the Moon company and more. We develop advanced navigation, operation, and computing systems for spacecraft, and our fleet of lunar landers and rovers deliver payloads to the Moon for companies, governments, universities, non-profits, and individuals. To date, we have two fully funded lunar lander missions on the books, more than 60 prior and ongoing NASA and commercial technology contracts worth upwards of $350 million, and a corporate sponsorship with DHL. Astrobotic was founded in 2007 and is headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA.