After Leak, Spacecraft Has 'No Chance' of Landing on Moon

'Space is hard,' NASA says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 9, 2024 3:10 PM CST
After Leak, Spacecraft Has 'No Chance' of Landing on Moon
This photo provided by Astrobotic Technology shows the Peregrine lunar lander at the company's facility in Pittsburgh in October 2023.   (Jordan K Reynolds/Astrobotic Technology via AP)

Astrobotic Technology says there's no longer any hope of its Peregrine probe landing on the moon. In an update posted on X Tuesday, the Pittsburgh-based company said that due to a fuel leak detected hours after liftoff Monday, "there is, unfortunately, no chance of a soft landing on the moon," the Guardian reports. "However, we do still have enough propellant to continue to operate the vehicle as a spacecraft," the company said. Astrobiotic said it now plans to keep the lunar lander in space for as long as possible to gain information for its next mission around a year from now, report the AP. It said it was able to point Peregine toward the sun, allowing it to recharge its solar batteries.

The company had aimed to land Peregrine on the moon on Feb. 23 for the first US moon landing in more than 50 years and the first ever by a private company. The goal now "is to get Peregrine as close to lunar distance as we can before it loses the ability to maintain its sun-pointing position and subsequently loses power," the company said Tuesday. "We are in a stable operating mode and are working payload and spacecraft tests and checkouts."

The spacecraft is carrying numerous scientific instruments and five tiny moon rovers. It is also carrying cremated human remains, which the Navajo Nation objected to, along with hair samples from George Washington, Dwight Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy. NASA said in a post on X that it is working with Astrobotic to "identify the root cause of the propulsion issue and evaluate how it affects NASA's five science investigations aboard the spacecraft." The agency added: "Space is hard." (More moon lander stories.)

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