In preparation for the launch of its first commercial lunar lander, NASA is prepping the spacecraft for its first mission.

The launch readiness review for United Launch Alliance's Vulcan Centaur rocket has been completed.

The rocket is scheduled for launch on January 8 at 2:18 a.m. Eastern.

The primary payload, named Peregrine, is a commercial lunar lander developed by Astrobotic,

carrying 20 payloads, including five instruments from NASA under the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) award.

Three instruments on Peregrine, namely NIRVSS, NSS, and PITMS, will study volatiles like water on the-

moon's surface and exosphere, particularly near the Gruithuisen Domes.

NSS principal investigator, Richard Elphic, stated that while natural water isn't expected at the landing-

location, the rocket exhaust during descent could reveal water that instruments might detect.

The instruments working together aim to understand how water molecules migrate and potentially end up at the lunar poles.

NASA initially planned ten instruments on Peregrine but removed five due to issues with the-

lander's performance and descent engines. Chris Culbert, NASA CLPS program manager, emphasized the-

balance between early lander missions for science opportunities and demonstrating the capability to safely land on the moon.

The business case for commercial lunar landers remains uncertain, with evolving-

markets and the successful landing seen as the crucial first step.