The first country to land on the moon was the Soviet Union in 1966. America was the first country to land humans on the moon in 1969, and ever since, only two countries have achieved a successful landing, including China, which managed three successful landings in the past decade and India, which achieved the feat on its second attempt. America is pushing the private industry of their country to complete space exploration and missions at a fraction of the cost required by a government initiative for the same. Called the Vulcan Centaur, America blasted off an attempt to land on the moon after almost 5 decades from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Vulcan Centaur is a two-stage-to-orbit, heavy-lift launch vehicle developed by United Launch Alliance (ULA). It is principally designed to meet launch demands for the U.S. government’s National Security Space Launch (NSSL) program for use by the United States Space Force and U.S. intelligence agencies for national security satellite launches. It will replace both of ULA’s existing heavy-lift launch systems (Atlas V and Delta IV Heavy) due to their retirement. Vulcan Centaur will also be used for commercial launches, including an order for 38 launches from Kuiper Systems.
Development of the Vulcan rocket started in 2014, largely in response to growing competition from SpaceX and a desire to phase out the Russian RD-180 used on the Atlas V. Initially scheduled for an inaugural flight in 2020, the program was delayed by over three years due to problems with the development of the BE-4 engine and the new Centaur upper stage. Vulcan Centaur launched for the first time on 8 January 2024, successfully carrying Astrobotic Technology’s Peregrine lunar lander, the first mission on NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program.
The lander Peregrine is carrying confidential scientific equipment that shall measure the Moon’s radiation and surface composition. The most interesting part is the remaining cargo: the cremated remains and DNA of Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry, DNA remains of scientist and author Arthur C. Clarke, a live dog, a physical bitcoin and a small rover built by Carnegie Mellon University! The US has paid only $100 million for the transport to Astrobotic, and in space exploration terms, it’s a good deal on a taxi fare.