John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic, at the company’s office in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. Photo: Ross Mantle

Beyond Prime: Inside the Race to Deliver Shipments to the Moon

Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic is set to be the first private company to make a lunar landing

Say you want to send scientific equipment, a time capsule, or your grandmother’s ashes to the lunar surface, but you’re not NASA or Jeff Bezos, so you pay someone to arrange it all for you. Thornton wants to be that someone.

A model of Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander. Photo: Ross Mantle
A close up of the battery mockup for the Peregrine lander. Photos: Ross Mantle

“This time, when we go to the moon, we’re actually going to stay. We’re not going to leave flags and footprints and then come home to not go back for another 50 years.”

John Thornton. Photos: Ross Mantle
From top, clockwise: A work area at the high bay, a two-story warehouse located on Astrobotic’s ground floor of their office in downtown Pittsburgh; a close up of a vacuum chamber used to simulate space’s environment; a detached bucket wheel, used for digging a trench through lunar regolith. Photos: Ross Mantle
Senior avionics engineer Tom Hinckley (top) demonstrates a testing procedure on an oscilloscope, a device used to measure electrical signals. Photos: Ross Mantle
Mission director Sharad Bhaskaran in front of Polaris Rover at Astrobotic. Polaris is a real, full-size operational rover. It will sit on top of the Griffin lander, which is about twice the size of Peregrine. A smaller rover, called CubeRover, will fit on Peregrine. Photo: Ross Mantle
From top, clockwise: Griffin, Astrobotic’s bigger version of Peregrine; a close up of Griffin; Polaris rover at Astrobotic’s warehouse. Photos: Ross Mantle

Writer, Jules Verne enthusiast, baked goods connoisseur. Arts, culture, science & tech.

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