First U.S. robotic moon lander since Apollo era planned for mid-2021

Oct. 7 (UPI) — A private company handling NASA’s long-awaited return to the moon’s surface said its robotic Peregrine lander is on track for launch in the spring.

The lander project, which received funding from NASA, would become the first private, commercial mission to the moon, said Sharad Bhaskaran, mission director for Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic Technology.

The Peregrine mission is planned to help prepare for a 2024 crewed landing in NASA’s Artemis program. Astrobotic’s lead role in the lunar return follows its founding in 2007 by robotics research professor Red Whittaker at Carnegie Mellon University.

“We are trying to become the first to land an American spacecraft on the moon since Apollo,” Bhaskaran said Tuesday. “Within a few years, we want to fly Peregrine once every year or 18 months. We believe that is a credible plan.”

Astrobotic has a fixed-price contract from NASA of $79.5 million for the first Peregrine

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