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First US lunar lander in more than 50 years rockets toward moon

via ULA

Astrobotic Technology’s lunar lander, launched by United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket, is on its way to the moon and is set to attempt a landing on Feb. 23.

The company aims to be the first private business to achieve this, but faces competition from a Houston-based company.

NASA has funded both companies to build and fly their own lunar landers, with the goal of scoping out the moon before astronauts arrive. (Trending: Chilling Arrest Footage of Trump Co-Defendant Provides Glimpse Into Jack Smith Probe)

“So, so, so excited. We are on our way to the moon!” Astrobotic chief executive John Thornton said.

“First to launch. First to land is TBD,” to be determined, Thornton noted.

The mission also involves delivering NASA tech and science experiments, as well as accommodating other customers.

The launch also marked the initial test flight of the Vulcan rocket, a successor to ULA’s Atlas V, with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin providing the Vulcan’s main engines.

NASA’s Artemis program plans to return astronauts to the moon’s surface within the next few years, with a lunar fly-around with four astronauts potentially happening before the end of the year.

Once the lander was free of the rocket’s upper stage, chief executive Tory Bruno shouted, “Yee-haw! I am so thrilled, I can’t tell you how much.”

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