Credit: Astrobotic

Astrobotic unveiled the flight model of its Peregrine lunar lander on Wednesday morning during a visit by top NASA and government officials to the company’s 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. Its unveiling is a sign of Peregrine’s state of readiness as it 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.

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.

Peregrine’s unveiling took place at Astrobotic’s Pittsburgh, PA, 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.

“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.”

Also 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.

Source: Astrobotic

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Kris Christiaens

This article was published by FutureSpaceFlight founder and chief editor Kris Christiaens. Kris Christiaens has been passionate and fascinated by spaceflight and space exploration all his life and has written hundreds of articles on space projects, the commercial space industry and space missions over the past 20 years for magazines, books and websites. In late 2021, he founded the website FutureSpaceFlight with the goal of promoting new space companies and commercial space projects and compiling news of these start-ups and companies on one website.