2 Private Companies Aim to Get the US Back to the Moon

By Jace Dela Cruz

Jan 04, 2024 11:25 PM EST

Two private companies are gearing up to propel the United States back into lunar exploration more than five decades after the Apollo program concluded, according to a report by AP

This initiative is part of a NASA-supported endeavor to initiate commercial moon deliveries, focusing on establishing human presence on the moon.

Buzz Aldrin Poses next To The U.S. flag On Moon
(Photo : NASA/Liaison)
060280 01: Astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin poses next to the U.S. flag July 20, 1969 on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission.

Two Companies Set to Take a Shot at the Moon

Leading the charge is Astrobotic Technology based in Pittsburgh, with a planned liftoff of a lander scheduled for Monday. The launch will utilize United Launch Alliance's Vulcan rocket. Following closely, Intuitive Machines from Houston aims to launch its lander in mid-February, hitching a ride with SpaceX.

This comes as a significant step, especially considering recent lunar landing attempts by other nations. China and India have both achieved successful lunar landings, while Japan is set to attempt its landing in two weeks. If successful, Japan will become the fifth country to accomplish a lunar landing.

The challenge of lunar landings lies in the absence of a substantial atmosphere to slow down spacecraft, rendering parachutes ineffective. Landers must rely on thrusters to descend while navigating around challenging lunar terrain such as cliffs and craters, as noted by AP.

READ ALSO: NASA Aims to Put Humanoid Robots in Space to Do Dangerous Jobs

Moon Race

Astrobotic and intuitive machines are not only seeking to end the United States' moon-landing hiatus. Still, they are also in a race to become the first private entities to achieve a gentle lunar landing.

The last attempt at a moon landing by the United States was Apollo 17 in December 1972, and since then, the focus has shifted to other celestial bodies like Mars. The upcoming lunar landings represent a significant shift in NASA's objectives, emphasizing lunar exploration and establishing a sustainable human presence. 

READ MORE: Back to the moon: NASA-funded study plans to return humans to the Moon  

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