Astrobotic Technology Inc, a new lunar logistics company, has contracted with launch provider United Launch Alliance (ULA), of the USA, for a secondary payload spot on an Atlas V launch in 2019. Astrobotic announced on 26 July that it would use the ride-share opportunity to launch its PEREGRINE lunar lander to the Moon. What the primary payload for the mission will be has not been announced.
Astrobotic originally took part in the Google Lunar X Prize competition to develop and build a private spacecraft to land on the Moon and move around on the surface. The competition deadline for launching to the Moon is the end of 2017. Astrobotic exited the competition during 2016, having realised that achieving the targeted launch date was largely unfeasible. The company has instead refocused its efforts on proving the technical credibility required to succeed in the “lunar delivery market”.
The company is an official partner with NASA, a commercial partner with Airbus Defence and Space and has a corporate sponsorship agreement with global logistics provider DHL.