Mexico’s First Lunar Mission Is a Go

( – By January 8th, 2024, a Latin American nation will land equipment on the moon for the first time. As part of an international space-exploration consortium led by the United States (Project Artemis), Mexico will send “microbots” to the surface of the moon. They will be hitching a ride inside a rocket launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida before disembarking from the lunar lander “Peregrine.”

The lander was built by a private space exploration company in Pittsburgh, and it is the first private craft to escape the atmosphere as part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program. The public-private project will carry and deliver at least 20 payloads, some from NASA, and some from commercial companies.

Salvador Landeros, head of the Mexican Space Agency (AEM), expressed pride in the country’s contribution to the project. He said this first for Latin America “will make history” in a December 22nd press release. Mexican engineering is “at the level of the best in the world,” Landeros added.

The microbots were developed by Mexican scientists with the participation of 250 college students. Their job once on the moon is to connect to each other wirelessly, then cooperate to assemble an energy-producing solar panel. Each of the five tiny robots is about the size of a saucer for a tea-cup, and they weigh only 60 grams.

They will also measure the temperature of lunar plasma, and the size of any particles floating above the surface of the moon.

Mexico had hoped to launch the bots in 2022 but technical problems caused a delay. There was also an aborted launch in December 2023. But perhaps the third time will be the charm. The Peregrine lander has already been fueled and paired up with the Vulcan Centaur rocket that will drive the payload up to lunar orbit. Space launches are incredibly sensitive to weather conditions; although January 8th is the hoped-for launch date, NASA has a “launch window” of Jan. 8th to Jan. 11th.

If the launch succeeds, Mexico’s microbots could be working on the moon’s surface by February 23rd, 2024.

Copyright 2024,