In July 2019, the whole
world celebrated the 50th anniversary of the humans landing on the
Moon. One way we celebrated as a family was to attend the event
organized by the Smithsonian Museum on the National Mall. The
story of the Apollo missions, including a depiction of a Saturn V
launch was projected onto the Washington Monument
. It was an impressive multimedia usage of the monument and surrounding architecture.
At the National Mall celebration of the Moon landing.
There were also many films and documentaries that we enjoyed as part of this celebration. One of these was "First Man
One scene in particular stood out for me, and it involved
Armstrong's daughter Karen, who died at a young age. The
movie has a scene that shows Armstrong leaving behind on the Moon a
bracelet of hers. It struck me as such a unique privilege of an
Apollo astronaut: to be able to leave something personal behind on the
Moon. Others left behind photographs and similar mementos
. The MoonRanger Project
In November 2019, I received a request to participate in a review to critique the design of the MoonRanger
project by Astrobotics. This lunar mission is
being done in cooperation with the Carnegie Mellon University, and
consists of the Peregrine lander and the MoonRanger rover to test pioneering autonomy on the
Moon. When my daughter Stephanie was a student, she assisted with
the design and construction of a precursor robotic rover, called
"Andy". Before Stephanie left the team, I met them and spoke to them for a few hours
about space electronics design and construction.
to this, I had reviewed many other projects, both inside and outside of
NASA, and I expected this one to be another one and not particularly
unusual. However, during the MoonRanger review process I became
aware of an exciting service they were offering as part of this
mission. This was the ability to (for a fee) send along a payload
of material that would be left behind permanently on the Moon on the Peregrine Lander
This service was called the "DHL Moonbox". It sounded very
exciting to me, and I decided to participate.
first thing I
had to decide on was what to send to the Moon. It is well known
that a single strand of hair contains the complete DNA of a person, and
is stable enough to last at least thousands of years under the right
conditions. This form of tissue would be a great proxy to us.
At the end of this, we can literally say that part of us is on
the Moon. In addition, to represent our origins, I decided to
small sample of sand or soil from three locations. The first
would be the beach of Aruba, which represents the island and its most
well-known asset. The second would be a sample of soil from my
Mom's house in Aruba, to represent our family's origins. Finally,
I would include a small sample of the red Maryland clay soil, to
represent where we currently live.
The purpose of sending a small token from Aruba to the Moon is two fold:
The Sampling Process
- The first is to stimulate interest in science and
technology among the school-going youth of Aruba. I hope by
knowing that a part of the island is on the Moon, and sent on the 20
anniversary of the ARUBA box, it would cause the students to take interest in the world of science and engineering.
- The second is to make people aware of the need to
preserve the natural beauty of the island. Exportation of the
island's soil and shells can lead to a destruction of the natural
Sampling of the Aruban beach sand. This sample taken near the
Aruba Beach Club where we spent many summers as a family, and
continue to be owner/members.
A sample from Mom's garden in Oranjestad, Aruba
This is the collection of samples. You can easily see the
Beach Sand (white), Aruba soil (black), and Maryland Clay (brown/red).
This is the nice little box to house the samples
The certificate showing the landing site is Lacus Mortis at 45N 27E.
The small hexagon near the bottom of the panel is the sample well our
item needs to fit into.
First I added a layer of our hair samples at the bottom of the well, and then
the three soil samples in separate corners. You can tell the sample type
from the colors. Top: Aruba soil, Bottom right:
Beach sand, and Bottom left: Maryland clay.
Official certificate from DHL Moonbox shipping service confirming our participation.
We shipped the sample on 02/02/2020.
February 2020 March 2020
We received an invitation in our work email to "Walk on the Moon"
above event was the unveiling of a large room-sized print of the map of
the Moon. It allowed you to go and Walk on the Moon. We
decided to go to find the landing site for this mission.
is the print of the Moon map. On the bottom is the equatorial
belt. The polar caps are behind Stephanie. Visitors were
allowed to put yellow notes on the Moon map.
Our note at the landing site of this mission. I was a little surprised no one else
had a note here.
I participated in the second review of the MoonRanger project by telecon.September 2020
successfully completes Peregrine Lunar Lander Structural model testing.
This lander will hold our sample submission for landing on the
Structural model test (image from here
Logo released. See top of this page. Part of the release reads:
Peregrine Mission One (PM1) is set to be the first US lander (and first
commercial lunar lander) to touch down on the Moon since the Apollo
missions more than 50 years ago. In anticipation of Peregrine’s launch
into space later this year, Astrobotic has released a commemorative
mission patch filled with some meaningful Easter (or more appropriately,
peregrine) eggs.|July 2021
MoonRanger (the rover) passed its final major review by NASA and is now in the flight fabrication phase. Press release
Email update from the team shows hardware being assembled.
“As we begin assembly, integration, and test of our Peregrine lunar
lander, receipt of critical flight components like the flight battery,
helium tanks, and propellant tanks keep our program on track for a
mid-2022 launch," says Sharad Bhaskaran, Astrobotic’s Peregrine Mission
One Director (email from Peregrine team).
One secondary aspect of this project is the education of the
preservation of the natural resources of Aruba. One such is the
characteristic pure white sand beaches that we have. It is
forbidden by law to export any of the sand or shells found on the
island. In order to comply with this law, I met with the Minister
of Justice, Mr Rocco Tjon to receive a permit to export 20 grams of
sand for this project. The permit was signed not just by him, but
also the Prime Minister of Aruba, Ms Evelyn Wever-Croes.
In an event streamed live, the Peregrine Lander was revealed in a
ceremony with local elected officials and NASA Administrator Bill
Nelson along with other NASA HQ officials.
From the press release:
Also present in the cleanroom were the 24
payloads that Peregrine will be delivering to the lunar surface. These
include scientific instruments from three national space agencies –
including 11 from NASA alone – a rover from Carnegie Mellon University,
several payloads from commercial companies, and cultural messages from
individuals around the Earth. The payloads are already integrated onto
Peregrine’s flight decks, which are awaiting installation on the greater
lander. Once Peregrine’s integration is complete, it will head to
spacecraft environmental testing, before being shipped to Cape Canaveral
in Florida to begin its final preparations for launch in Q4 2022.
Peregrine in the Astrobotic clean room being built (photo by Astrobotic).
Press release about this reveal event
At the reveal from left to right: Congressman
Matt Cartwright, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, NASA Science Associate
Administrator Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, John Thornton Astrobotic CEO, Jim
Reuter NASA Space Technology Associate Administrator, Justine Kasznica
Founding Board Chair of the Keystone Space Collaborative (picture from Astrobotic)
Peregrine was featured in an article in Time Magazine
Peregrine bus with payloads integrated.
I received an update from Astrobotic with photographs of our payload being readied for installation onto the lander.
This is the certificate of the shipment to the Moon via the Moon Box program.
You can see the samples in the small black hexagon.
The Moon Box being integrated into its pod for installation onto the Lander.
about this update.
Article on 24ora.com
following the above post
Shipment to Environmental Test Facility
On the same day as the launch of Artemis I to the Moon, Astrobotic issued this press release
showing the Peregrine spacecraft being readied for shipment.
Image from Astrobotic web site of Peregrine's
final preparations (Nov 2022)
This interesting article
from Reuters shows that this is the debut of the Vulcan rocket.
This line is priced at about $110 million per launch. When
successful it will offer an American made alternative to the Russian
engines commonly used in the industry. The delay from end of 2022
was at the request of Astrobotic.
December 2022 - Vibe Test
In mid December, this press article
shows the Mass Properties and Vibe Test. The former weighs the
vehicle and determines the location of the Center of Mass and various
inertial properties. These are needed for the attitude control
system. The second test is to shake the hardware to test its
strength for withstanding launch.
Peregrine on the Vibe Table. Just as we do at Goddard, they are
conducting a test here to see if the spacecraft can withstand
the launch vibration.
January 2023 - Ready to ship to the Cape
indicates the flight hardware
is ready to ship. In addition, an update from ULA shows the
rocket is progressing well with a test fire planned later this month.
The Centaur rocket will be powered by twin Vulcan rocket motors developed by Blue Origin
These are new motors that run on Methane (LNG), and have more thrust
that the Space Shuttle Main Engines. Once operational, they will
replace the ones that are normally bought from the Russians, and that
will be very good in these uncertain political times.
March 2023 - First Stage (Booster) Tanking Test
The tanking system of this brand new rocket design was tested at launch pad LC41 and described in this update
. A nice video summarizing the tests and a glance at the payloads is here
April 2023 - Upper Stage Tank Test
shows a explosion during a test of the Centaur upper stage tank.
This may be cause for delay. The launch window will be in monthly
intervals due to the Lunar flight trajectory. Indeed in early
May, we received an email update that launch would be delayed from the
May 2023 date.
June 2023 - BE-4 Test Fire
On June 7 2023, the twin BE-4 engines running on Methane were test
fired successfully on the launch pad. This is clearly an
important milestone to launch. In the next step, I would expect
to next hear that Astrobotic can ship Peregrine to the Cape for launch.
Launch will be no earlier than Fall 2023 from the Kennedy Space Center
on the new Vulcan Centaur Rocket
. It will launch
from Space Launch Complex 41 at the CCAF.
More details here
(c) 2023 Edward Cheung, all rights reserved.