Astrobotic Abandons Moon Landing Mission as Peregrine Spacecraft Suffers Critical Propellant Loss

Peregrine Spacecraft Suffers Critical Propellant Loss | The Enterprise World

(Source – Agencia EFE)

In a disappointing turn of events, Astrobotic Technology, the company heralded for developing the first lunar lander to launch from the United States in fifty years, has announced the abandonment of its moon landing mission. This decision comes less than 24 hours after the Peregrine spacecraft embarked on its journey.

The setback was attributed to a “critical” loss of propellant caused by a fuel leak, rendering the mission in jeopardy shortly after the vehicle’s launch from Florida towards the moon on a Monday morning. Astrobotic revealed that the lunar lander, named Peregrine, encountered difficulties orienting itself to face the sun, likely due to a propulsion issue. This misalignment hindered the spacecraft’s ability to charge its batteries, putting the entire mission in jeopardy.

Align the 6-foot-tall box-shaped lander in space

While the battery issue was eventually resolved, the company faced insurmountable challenges rectifying the propulsion system glitch plaguing the Peregrine lander. Astrobotic’s late Monday evening statement highlighted a fuel leak affecting the thrusters of the lander’s attitude control system. These thrusters, designed to precisely align the 6-foot-tall box-shaped lander in space, were forced to “operate well beyond their expected service life cycles to keep the lander from an uncontrollable tumble.”

Astrobotic conceded that the thrusters might only have a maximum operational time of 40 more hours. The company’s current objective is to maneuver the Peregrine spacecraft as close to lunar distance as possible before it loses its ability to maintain a sun-pointing position and subsequently loses power.

Unfortunately, this means the anticipated moon landing, initially scheduled for February 23, is now off the table. Astrobotic had already raised concerns earlier in the day when it reported a “failure within the propulsion system” leading to the depletion of the vehicle’s fuel. Despite hours of concerted efforts to stabilize the issue and assess potential solutions, the company faced an uphill battle.

Astrobotic shared the first image of the Peregrine lander in space

In a poignant moment during the troubleshooting process, Astrobotic shared the first image of the Peregrine spacecraft lander in space on Monday afternoon. The photograph revealed noticeable damage, with the outer layers of insulation on the vehicle appearing crinkled, reflecting the challenges faced by the mission.

This development is a setback not only for Astrobotics but also for the broader aspirations of lunar exploration and the resurgence of American involvement in moon missions. As the company navigates the complexities of space exploration, this unfortunate turn highlights the inherent risks and challenges associated with pushing the boundaries of technology and venturing into the vast expanse beyond our planet. Despite this setback, the determination and resilience demonstrated by companies like Astrobotic will likely fuel continued efforts to explore and unlock the mysteries of our celestial neighbor in the future.

Also Read: India becomes the fourth country ever to land a spacecraft on the moon

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