‘Tip of the spear:’ New ULA rocket will launch first commercial spacecraft to lunar surface
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A new rocket was rolled out to the launch pad Friday for its first mission, and Vulcan Centaur isn’t just going to orbit.
United Launch Alliance’s new heavy launcher is carrying the first American spacecraft that would land on the moon in more than 50 years.
The CEO of the company that built the lunar lander, Astrobotic, told News 6 that he’s incredibly excited for Monday’s launch.
There has never been a commercial spacecraft to land on the moon.
“This is 16 years in the making, and here we are, on the launch pad, ready to go for flight to the surface,” John Thornton said. “It’s just so amazing to be in this moment at this time.”
NASA has called the Vulcan Centaur’s maiden mission a precursor for returning astronauts to the surface of the moon.
Thornton said the uncrewed Astrobotic lander is the “tip of the spear” for returning to the lunar surface as a nation.
“This will be among the first missions to return to the surface in nearly 50 years since Apollo, so this will help pave the way, start to do science and a little bit of exploration, to understand more about the surface of the moon, more about the environment,” he said.
In an update Friday afternoon, ULA continued to report the launch is scheduled for 2:18 a.m. on Monday.
Stick with News 6 and ClickOrlando.com for continuing coverage of the mission leading up to the launch.
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