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    First US Lunar Lander in More Than 50 Years Rockets Toward Moon with Commercial Deliveries

    First US Lunar Lander in More Than 50 Years Rockets Toward Moon with Commercial Deliveries

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The first U.S. lunar lander in more than 50 years rocketed to space Monday, launching a race for private companies to deliver experiments and other items to the moon.

    Astrobotic Technology's lander caught a ride on a brand rocket, United Launch Alliance's Vulcan. The Vulcan streaked through the Florida predawn sky, putting the spacecraft on a roundabout route to the moon that should culminate with an attempted landing on Feb. 23.

    “We are on our way to the moon!” Astrobotic chief executive John Thornton said.

    The Pittsburgh company aims to be the first private business to successfully land on the moon, something only four countries have accomplished. But a Houston company also has a lander ready to fly, and could beat it to the lunar surface, taking a more direct path.

    NASA gave the two companies millions to build and fly their own lunar landers. The space agency wants the privately owned landers to scope out the place before astronauts arrive while delivering NASA tech and science experiments as well as odds and ends for other customers. Astrobotic's contract for the Peregrine lander: $108 million.

    The last time the U.S. launched a moon-landing mission was in December 1972. Apollo 17's Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt became the 11th and 12th men to walk on the moon, closing out an era that has remained NASA's pinnacle.

    The space agency's new Artemis program — named after the…

    Continue Reading This Article At Military.com

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