“Peregrine”: American company attempts first private moon landing

A private American company wants to lay the groundwork for a commercial landing on the moon on Monday. Manufacturer ULA's “Vulcan Centaur” rocket is scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral Space Station in the morning (8:18 a.m. CET) with the “Peregrine” lander.

The American Astrobotic capsule from Pittsburgh is scheduled to finally land on the Earth's satellite on February 23 in a region called Sinus Viscositatis (Bay of Stickiness). The American space agency NASA wants to prepare its own missions to Earth's moon with several instruments in “Peregrine Mission 1”. Private individuals can also purchase space to transport supplies to the moon in a lander measuring 1.9 meters high and 2.5 meters in diameter. During the mission, NASA wants to study the lunar exosphere, about 380,000 kilometers from Earth, and the local magnetic fields and radiation. In addition, the thermal properties and hydrogen content of material on the lunar surface (regolith) will be investigated. This lunar collaboration between NASA and a private company also includes plans to test advanced solar systems.

This will “help us better prepare to send humans to the moon,” explained NASA scientist Paul Niles. As part of the “Artemis” program, NASA wants to orbit the moon with three men and a woman on a ten-day “Artemis 2” mission by the end of 2024.

In 2025, “Artemis 3” – at least according to the current plan – will see astronauts land on the moon again for more than half a century, including a woman and a non-white person. The long-term goal of “Artemis” is to establish a permanent lunar base as a base for missions to Mars.

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It is important for the US space agency to have the support of private space companies. “We don't know how many of these early tests will be successful, but I can tell you that these American companies are technically detail-oriented. They're very business-minded. They're resourceful and motivated,” said NASA program director Chris Culbert. Appreciated Astrobotic and other partners. Companies are highly motivated to capture the moon as a commercial space. But success is not guaranteed: In April, a private Japanese company failed in a similar mission.

However, the send-off from the private partners in “Peregrine” is a thorn in the side of some indigenous peoples in the Americas: human and animal ashes end up on the moon – as a special final resting place – by mission. According to US media reports, the leader of the Navajo Nation in the state of Arizona, Buu Nygren, wrote a letter of complaint to NASA: They said the mission would insult the moon, which is considered sacred in their culture.

NASA confirmed that it supports the planned dialogue with the Navajo, but stressed that given the private nature of the mission, there is no impact on the Jan. 8 launch of the moon.

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