Masten delays first lunar lander mission

WASHINGTON — Masten House Programs is pushing again the launch of its first lunar lander mission by almost a yr, the newest in a collection of delays by corporations with NASA contracts to move payloads to the moon.

Masten mentioned June 23 that its Masten Mission 1 lander, which had been scheduled to launch in December 2022 to land close to Haworth Crater within the south polar areas of the moon, will as an alternative launch in November 2023. The corporate blamed the delay on the cumulative results of the COVID-19 pandemic and industry-wide provide chain points.

“We’ve all been impacted by the pandemic ultimately, and the aerospace {industry} is not any exception,” Dave Masten, founder and chief expertise officer, mentioned within the firm’s announcement of the delay. “Nevertheless, we’ve consulted with NASA, our launch supplier and payload companions, and we have now full confidence within the new mission schedule.”

Masten received a NASA job order as a part of its Industrial Lunar Payload Companies (CLPS) program in April 2020 for the mission, valued at $75.9 million. Masten will ship a set of NASA science and expertise payloads, with room on the lander for added business payloads. Masten contracted with SpaceX to launch the lander, a design the corporate calls XL-1.

“Our group continues to make progress on XL-1 growth and obtain necessary milestones that can assist guarantee a secure, exact touchdown close to the resource-rich Haworth Crater,” Dave Masten mentioned. One benefit of the delay, the corporate added, is that there will probably be lowered shadowing from terrain throughout the brand new touchdown interval, a key challenge in polar areas the place the solar is low on the horizon.

NASA confirmed it was conscious of the delay within the Masten lander mission. “Masten has notified NASA it’ll delay the supply by 12 months on account of COVID-19 impacts that pushed previous the present launch window,” Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA affiliate administrator for science, tweeted. “NASA Payloads will probably be prepared when Masten is ready to launch safely.”

Masten is one in every of 4 corporations which have obtained a complete of six CLPS job orders that NASA has awarded to this point. Two different CLPS corporations have additionally suffered delays of their preliminary lunar lander missions.

Intuitive Machines confirmed in April that its IM-1 lander mission, which had been scheduled for launch within the fall of 2021, had been delayed to early 2022. The corporate mentioned SpaceX, its launch supplier, delayed the launch due to “distinctive mission necessities” that neither Intuitive Machines nor SpaceX would disclose.

Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander had additionally been scheduled to launch in late 2021 because the payload on the inaugural launch of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur. Nevertheless, ULA has mentioned in current weeks that the primary Vulcan launch had been delayed to 2022 due to buyer payload delays.

Whereas Astrobotic hasn’t made a public announcement in regards to the schedule for Peregrine, John Thornton, chief government of the corporate, instructed table4 June 23 that the mission is now scheduled for launch in 2022.

“I commend our group for his or her unimaginable work and perseverance via what we are able to all agree was a tricky yr,” he mentioned. “Many companies and provide chains had been affected by COVID, and Astrobotic is not any exception. We’re optimistically shifting into 2022 along with the identical tenacity we’ve at all times possessed.”

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