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SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy wins launch contract for VIPER lunar rover

Capitalism in space: Astrobotic, the company building the lander to place NASA’s VIPER lunar rover on the Moon, has picked SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy as the rocket to launch the package.

This mission is part of a fleet of landers being sent to the Moon in the next two years, as part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program to hire private companies to do this rather than NASA.

Intuitive Machines, which won CLPS task orders for two lander missions, will launch each on Falcon 9 vehicles late this year and in 2022. Masten Space Systems selected SpaceX to provide launch services for its XL-1 lander mission, which won a CLPS award for a late 2022 mission.

Astrobotic will launch its first CLPS mission, a smaller lunar lander called Peregrine, on the inaugural launch of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur currently scheduled for late this year. Firefly Aerospace, which won the most recent CLPS award in January, has not selected a launch provider yet for its Blue Ghost lander, but noted the lander is too large to launch on the company’s own Alpha rocket.

That’s five American lunar missions, all built and owned by private companies. Nor will these be the only unmanned lunar missions, when you include the UAE rover targeted for a ’22 launch, along with additional planned Indian, Chinese, and Russian missions. Almost all are aimed at the Moon’s south polar regions.

It is going to get both crowded and busy on the Moon in the next few years.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

5 comments

  • pzatchok

    I am so glad that SpaceX is not forcing the other launch companies to drop prices.

    I can tell that that the old launch companies just didn’t even want the contract so they didn’t even make a real bid.

  • Richard M

    What is likewise impressive is just how much launches to the Moon – or lunar space – SpaceX is racking up. This now makes seven (7) confirmed launches by SpaceX for Artemis in some way, shape, or form:

    * Intuitive Machines Mission 1 (IM-1) 2021
    * Masten Mission One 2022
    * Intuitive Machines Mission 2 (IM-2) 2022
    * VIPER 2023 (FH)
    * Gateway PPE+HALO Module 2024 (FH)
    * Gateway Dragon XL Logistics Flight 1 2024+(FH)
    * Gateway Dragon XL Logistics Flight2 2024+ (FH)

    And now, on top of that, SpaceX also will now launch a UAE lander to the Moon, too.

  • Jeff Wright

    In terms of rovers-I want you to imagine this: A Starship has a set of legs that allow it to go horizontal. It becomes a giant rover with small craft in it.

  • Regular lunar space operations will be a huge step for SpaceX, and for humans in general. Very convenient to have a large, nearby body to practice cruise, orbital insertion, and other Mars-necessary activities. I would think they’d try their own lunar lander at some point. Or maybe Musk wants to practice on Mars.

  • Star Bird

    The Liberals in Space program lets send liberals to Uranus

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