First US lunar lander in more than 50 years rockets toward moon

The first U.S. lunar lander in more than 50 years rocketed toward the moon Monday, launching private companies on a space race to make deliveries for NASA and other customers.

Astrobotic Technology’s lander caught a ride on a brand new rocket, United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan. The Vulcan streaked through the Florida predawn sky, putting the spacecraft on a roundabout route to the moon that should culminate with an attempted landing on Feb. 23.

“So, so, so excited. We are on our way to the moon!” Astrobotic chief executive John Thornton said.

A United Launch Alliance Vulcan rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, Monday, Jan. 8, 2024. This is the inaugural launch of the rocket, carrying Astrobotic’s lunar lander.(Craig Bailey/Florida Today via AP)

The Pittsburgh company aims to be the first private business to successfully land on the moon, something only four countries have accomplished. But
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