Although the COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected a lot of NASA’s most critical missions, the agency is still doing the best it can. Michoud Assembly Facility and Stennis Space Center in New Orleans and Mississippi were both closed, and the entire agency is going to Stage 4.
But NASA is not doing everything by itself, so part of its missions can still go on. It has external vendors approved to build and/or fly landers to the Moon on its behalf through Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program.
Peregrine is Astrobotic Technology’s lunar lander as a part of the CLPS program, and its mission is programmed to be launched to the Moon in July 2021. It is expected that Peregrine will resist multiple lunar missions within a short period. To make it deeper into space, propulsion systems need to be high-performance, lightweight, and compact.
Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, NASA Prepares The Peregrine Moon Lander
Frontier Aerospace of Simi Valley developed some high-performing thrusters that can work with less-bulky and power-hungry designs that can be used for small rockets. They are destined to be used by NASA for its Thruster for the Advancement of Low-temperature Operation in Space (TALOS) project.
NASA and partner Frontier Aerospace designed a series of more than 60 hot-fire tests of thrusters to be performed in ten days. Five of these superior deep-space thrusters will be delivered to Astrobotic Technology to be used for Peregrine.
The novelty within the thrusters is that they are designed to use a fuel than can burn at lower temperatures without risk of freezing, unlike the traditional thrusters. Their operating range makes the thrusters resist to -40 up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, way lower than the conventional 45 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The propellant is made of mixed oxides of nitrogen and monomethylhydrazine. This can extend the duration of flying, which is needed for and deep-space missions.