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United Launch Alliance, Astrobotic ready for early Monday liftoff to the moon |

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The countdown to launch is on. United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur rocket has been rolled to the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station ahead of its early Monday morning launch, a mission that could end with the first fully private spacecraft landing on the moon.

Vulcan’s primary payload is Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander. If all goes to plan, Peregrine will embark on a journey to the moon over the span of around 1.5 months, before attempting to land on the surface on February 23. The two companies had been targeting a Christmas Eve launch, but ULA decided to postpone due to ground system issues.

“If you’ve been following the lunar industry, you understand landing on the Moon’s surface is incredibly difficult,” Astrobotic CEO John Thornton said in a press release last month. “With that said, our team has continuously surpassed expectations and demonstrated incredible ingenuity during flight reviews, spacecraft testing,…

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