Main Engine Cut Off

Astrobotic to Fly on First Vulcan Flight

Astrobotic, the world leader in commercial delivery to the Moon, was selected by NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program to deliver up to 14 NASA payloads to the Moon on its Peregrine lunar lander in 2021. With this $79.5 million CLPS award, Astrobotic has now signed 16 customers for lunar delivery on its first mission.

Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander will launch on a Vulcan Centaur rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch of this mission will serve as the first of two certification flights required for ULA’s U.S. Air Force certification process.

I could pretty much copy and paste my thoughts from last week about Dream Chaser flying on Vulcan: not surprising news since we had expected Atlas V, and I wonder what will happen if Vulcan doesn’t get to be a part of the next round of Air Force contracts.

I also wonder what ULA would do if Astrobotic’s flight is delayed. At that point, schedule would be more critical for ULA than making good on what I presume is a free flight, so I’d guess they’d fly empty or throw Tory Bruno’s car on top.

It is notable that now all seven flights for Vulcan are shifted over from all-but-previously-announced agreements to fly on Atlas V—not exactly the sales record that makes me believe in Vulcan’s ability to be a commercial success. Ariane 6 is in a similar spot.