Astrobotics finally offered a closer look at the craft that will carry scientific payloads on the surface of the moon. The company revealed the final version of its Peregrine Moon lander ahead of its launch in the last quarter of the year. It’s a simple exterior design that looks like a bowl turned upside down, but that’d be enough to carry 24 missions including 11 elements from NASA, the Carnegie Mellon spacecraft, special shipping, and even “cultural messages” from Earth.
Peregrine falcons are just over six feet tall and can hold up to 100 kilograms (about 220 pounds on the ground). And most importantly for customers, it is relatively cheap – it will cost $1.2 million per kilogram to carry payloads to the lunar surface ($300,000 to orbit). This sounds expensive, but it’s a bargain compared to the cost of launching the missiles. SpaceX right now Shipping $67 million per Falcon 9 launch, and that’s “only” it reaches Earth orbit.
The Astrobotic team has yet to finish integrating payloads, conducting environmental testing, and shipping Peregrine to Cape Canaveral, where it will be launched aboard a ULA Vulcan Centaur rocket. However, payloads have already been integrated into flight platforms.
The machine must make history if and when it succeeds. Peregrine is expected to be the first US spacecraft to (properly) land on the Moon since Apollo program is over. Previous missions such as Lunar Prospector, LCROSS, GRAIL, and LADEE ended in intentional accidents. Astrobotic’s effort won’t be as critical as The landing of the crew of ArtemisBut it will help highlight humanity’s renewed interest in being on the Moon.
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