Utah author Rebecca Rode loves setting the heroines of her young adult novels in dystopian futurescapes where their journeys pit them against epic challenges and unexpected plot twists and turns.

And Rode knew she was engaging with a real life heroic effort when she joined a group of authors whose work was included in a digital time capsule and stowed aboard a spacecraft built by a private company hoping to be the first U.S.-led effort to land a ship on the moon since the last Apollo mission in the early ’70s.

After a brand new rocket carrying Astrobotic Technology’s Peregrine lunar lander successfully lifted off from a pad at the Cape Canaveral Launch Complex early Monday morning, it seemed like the dream shared by Rode and her fellow authors to deliver their work, along with other writings, to Earth’s sole satellite nearly 239,000 miles away would become reality.

The maiden flight of the Vulcan Centaur rocket, developed by aerospace giants Lockheed Martin and Boeing under a joint venture called the United Launch Alliance, performed flawlessly. But the Peregrine lander it was carrying encountered a series of technical issues shortly after deployment and one of those issues, a critical loss of propellant that is necessary for the craft to make all the maneuvers necessary for traveling to and executing a controlled touchdown on the moon, has led to the attempt being scrubbed.

Now, it appears the remaining fuel will be used to aim the craft in the general direction of the moon and Peregrine is likely to drift into deeper space when its onboard power eventually runs out.

After successful launch, private mission to the moon imperiled

But Rode sees this unexpected, and untethered, voyage into space as, perhaps, a more poetic outcome for her digital cache than the hoped-for lunar deposit. And it appears that the collective authors’ archive was copied before being loaded on Peregrine and will have another opportunity to reach the moon on a follow-up Astrobotic mission scheduled for later this year.

“Still feeling lots of emotions right now,” Rode wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday after Astrobotic confirmed the Peregrine moon landing was off the table. “Disappointment, yes. Our Writers on the Moon project won’t go down in history as the first American moon lander in 50 years, nor will our time capsule be deposited there for future generations to enjoy.

“But. Apparently our files were backed up on a subsequent Lunar Codex mission. That means we’ll have another shot possibly in November of this year. We aren’t done yet.

“And my books are still on an intact mini USD card floating into space. That’s something very few authors in history can claim. As my daughter said, ‘That’s so cool! Way cooler than being stuck on the moon forever.’”

In a Deseret News interview on Monday, before the ultimate fate of the Peregrine mission had been decided, Rode shared the excitement she felt watching the fiery launch of the Vulcan rocket in the wee hours of the morning, knowing her creative output was along for the ride.

“It was surreal,” Rode said. “It was one of those experiences you know you’ll never forget, that feeling, that moment, for the rest of your life.

“I’ve watched a lot of launches, but knowing that I had a part in what was on that ship ... felt frozen in time. It transcended anything I’ve ever experienced watching any launch. It was a part of me that was launching.”

Rode said she began her journey as an author later than most, and didn’t start writing until 10 years into her marriage and after completing college and starting a family. But, once she got a taste of the profession as a contract journalist, she said the “floodgates just opened.”

Now, her website features a slew of works including the “Ember,” “Numbers Game” and “Flare” series of novels. While Rode has delved into some nonfiction writing, she said fictional storytelling is where her real passion lies.

“Fiction is more rewarding for me than nonfiction because I can dig so much deeper into myself,” Rode said. “I can take my personal experience of the world and the larger human experience and multiple characters with multiple points of view ... to bring across a stronger message than I can in nonfiction.”

But when deciding which works to contribute to the Writers on the Moon project, an effort organized by Rode’s colleague and speculative fiction author Susan Kaye Quinn, Rode noted Quinn advised her to make selections that offered a broader perspective of who she was as a person, and not just a writer.

So, in addition to a selection of her works, Rode included a published book written by her 12-year-old daughter. And writings that represented the teachings of her faith as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

“It really does feel like destiny and being a part of history,” Rode said. “It’s interesting because I come from strong pioneer stock and this is my opportunity to be a pioneer.

“This is something that I would say we dream about but I would never have dreamed that this was possible.”

Rode said her faith both grounds and informs her work which typically revolves around stories of the journeys to overcome obstacles and contribute to bettering the worlds she creates in her writings.

“My books tend to be the story of a struggle between a person, usually a teenage girl, and her environment ... and the struggle to create a better world,” she said.

But while Rode is passionate about her profession and the characters and stories she creates as an author, she noted her faith remains above the job.

“If I would have had to choose between my books and the Book of Mormon to contribute to the Peregrine time capsule,” Rode said,” I would have chosen the Book of Mormon.”