Vulcan rocket prepares for first launch with Moon lander mission

Vulcan rocket prepares for first launch with Moon lander mission


A brand new American rocket is on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral, Florida, and for the first time in more than 50 years, an American spacecraft will head to the surface of the Moon. The rocket is called Vulcan, and it was built by the United Launch Alliance company. Here’s what you need to know about its maiden flight.

The launch is scheduled for Monday at 2:18 a.m. Eastern Time. there will be coverage NASA television broadcast Starting at 1:30 am

Forecasts give an 85 percent chance of favorable weather. If the launch is delayed until Tuesday, weather conditions will worsen, with only a 30 percent chance of favorable conditions.

There are additional launch opportunities on January 10 and January 11.

Astrobotic Technologies of Pittsburgh is sending Peregrine, a robotic spacecraft, to land in Sinus Viscositatis – Latin for “Bay of Stickiness” – a mysterious region near the moon. NASA is paying Astrobotic $108 million to conduct five experiments there, part of the space agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, or CLPS. The goal of the program is to reduce the cost of sending objects to the surface of the Moon.

The Vulcan rocket, built by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, will replace the company’s two existing rockets, the Altas V and Delta IV.

Since the formation of the United Launch Alliance in 2006, its core business has been launching top-secret military payloads for the United States government. Its rockets were expensive – too expensive for most commercial customers – but highly reliable. With Vulcan, ULA is seeking greater share of the commercial market. It has already sold more than 70 Vulcan launches, including 38 to Amazon, as it builds Project Kuiper, a constellation of Internet communications satellites.

The United States Space Force would like to see two successful Vulcan launches before placing any of its payloads onboard. Monday’s launch is the first certification launch. Another may occur as soon as April. It will carry the Dream Chaser, an unmanned space plane built by Sierra Space of Louisville, Colo., on cargo delivery missions to the International Space Station.

If those flights are successful, four additional Vulcan launches this year will carry Space Force payloads into orbit.

The Navajo Nation is objecting to human ashes and DNA aboard Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander.

In addition to the five NASA experiments, Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander is also carrying several payloads for commercial customers. These include Celestis and Elysium Space, companies that memorialize people by sending some of their remains into space.

On Thursday, Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren said in a statement that he had sent a letter to NASA and the United States Department of Transportation calling for the launch to be postponed.

“The moon is deeply embedded in the spirituality and heritage of many indigenous cultures, including our own,” he wrote. “Placing human remains on the Moon is a profound account of this celestial body revered by our people.”

During news conferences, NASA officials said they were not in charge of the mission and had no direct authority over other payloads sold by Astrobotic on Peregrine.

“An intergovernmental meeting is being conducted with the Navajo Nation that NASA will support,” Joel Kearns, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for exploration, said during a news conference Thursday.

Astrobotic Chief Executive John Thornton said Friday he was disappointed that “this conversation came up so late in the game,” because his company had announced Celestis and Elysium’s involvement years ago.

“We’re really trying to do the right thing,” Mr. Thornton said. “I am hopeful that we can find a good way forward with the Navajo Nation.”



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