SPACECRAFT

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NASA RETURNS TO THE MOON

As part of its Artemis program, the U.S.'s National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) has selected several Moon landing partners whose goal is to deliver science and technology payloads under its  Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. These unmanned missions pave the way for the eventual return of astronauts to the Moon.

The Lunar Codex leverages this as a client to third-party commercial payload service providers to the NASA partners, Astrobotic Technology and Intuitive Machines.

Codex files are currently onboarded for Astrobotic Peregrine Mission 1 (PM1) to Lacus Mortis. Codex files are being finalized for onboarding for Intuitive Machines Mission 1 (IM1) to the Vallis Schröteri region of Oceanus Procellarum. Launches are scheduled for late 2022 and early 2023, via the United Launch Alliance and SpaceX, respectively.

The Lunar Codex has reserved payload space with Astrobotic for the 2024 Griffin/VIPER mission (GM1) to
the lunar South Pole, to be launched via SpaceX, and is in the process of compiling its archive.

Astrobotic Peregrine Lunar Lander

The Peregrine Lunar Lander is a 4-legged vessel 1.9 m high and 2.5 m across, made of aluminum panels and mounting surfaces, with a total mass of 70 kg. 

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Propulsion is by 5 thrusters at the bottom of the lander, complemented by 4 sets of 3 attitude-control thrusters to maintain orientation. The lander is powered by solar cells at the top of the lander, with energy storage using lithium-ion batteries.

The lander can carry 90 kg of payload, and will carry both scientific payloads such as those from NASA, and commercial payloads including the Lunar Codex's Peregrine archive.
 

Peregrine is scheduled for launch via United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan Centaur from Cape Canaveral, Florida in late 2022, landing in the region of Lacus Mortis on the Moon.

Intuitive Machines Nova-C Lunar Lander

The Nova-C Lander is a hexagonal cylinder on 6 legs, powered by solar panels generating 200 W on the surface. The lander is capable of operating for about 14 Earth days in sunlight.

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Nova-C will land on the Moon in Vallis Schroteri in Oceanus Procellarum, within a chosen 200 meter landing site.

The lander can carry 100 kg of payload to the surface, and will include several NASA scientific payloads and other commercial cargo, including the Lunar Codex time capsule images in the Nova collection.

Nova-C is scheduled for launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a SpaceX Falcon 9, in the early 2023, destination Vallis Schrasöteri, in the area of Oceanus Procellarum on the Moon.

Astrobotic Griffin Lunar Lander

The Griffin lander is targeted to land at in a region of interest in the south polar region of the Moon in 2024.
 

The spacecraft is expected to operate for 100 days after its landing. NASA's VIPER will be the main payload, shown here on the larger Griffin lander.

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VIPER will investigate permanently shadowed regions of craters located in the moon’s south pole, specifically for potential deposits of water ice that could be used as resources for future crewed missions.

Other commercial payloads are onboard the Griffin lander, including the Lunar Codex's Polaris archive of contemporary culture as one of the sub-payloads of Astrobotics' commercial payload initiative.

Mission Patches

Official mission patches have been released for the Astrobotics Peregrine mission (PM-1), and the Intuitive Machines Nova-C mission (IM-1). An official mission patch for the Astrobotics Griffin mission (GM-1) has yet to be released.

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A Note on Artemis I, Orion, and the Lunar Codex

In the fall of 2022, the first mission in the Artemis program is scheduled for launch around 12:48-2:48 pm  EDT from Launch Complex 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Artemis I mission will see first use of NASA's Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket and the Orion spacecraft, and is the vanguard for the later Peregrine and Nova-C missions.

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In the mission, the un-crewed Orion spacecraft will be launched, orbit the Moon, and then return to Earth.

Along with scientific and educational payloads, Orion will be carrying a flash drive with the Lunar Codex-associated work Three Faces of the Moon. Orion will cruise into lunar orbit and back to Earth.

Because the spacecraft does not land on the Moon, the poem as carried by Orion is not part of the Lunar Codex archivesInstead, the poem will be re-launched and preserved as part of the Polaris archive on the 2024 Griffin mission.

The original poem returns to Earth - a prelude,  like Orion, to the actual lunar landings.

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