Alabama-made rocket launch successful, though mission has been problematic

Lunar spacecraft encountered problems after launch

The Vulcan Centaur launched in the early hours this morning from Cape Canaveral. (United Launch Alliance photo)

An Alabama-made next-generation Vulcan rocket powered the launch early this morning of a private moon lander carrying two payloads to the moon.

Vulcan Centaur launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, powered by a rocket built by United Launch Alliance in Decatur.

 The launch was successful, but Peregrine, the Astrobotic-built lunar lander that was launched, encountered problems soon after, and though the lander righted itself, the future of the mission is still unclear.

The launch itself, though, was a milestone for ULA.

“Vulcan’s inaugural launch ushers in a new, innovative capability to meet the ever-growing requirements of space launch,” said Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO. “Vulcan will provide high performance and affordability while continuing to deliver our superior reliability and orbital precision for all our customers across the national security, civil and commercial markets. Vulcan continues the legacy of Atlas as the world’s only high-energy architecture rocket.”

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The lunar lander contains five NASA experiments as well as commercial payloads.

ULA, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, has sold more than 70 Vulcan launches, including 38 missions for Amazon’s Project Kuiper and multiple national security space launch missions as the part of the country’s Phase 2 launch procurement.

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