Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

Private Peregrine probe will not reach the lunar surface

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The Galileo probe made it possible to observe the surface of the Moon in 1992.

Agence France-Presse

The private American lander Peregrine which took off on Monday, but having experienced serious problems in flight shortly after, has “no chance” of reaching the lunar surface as initially planned, said the company Astrobotic, which designed the probe.

Due to a fuel leak, there is, unfortunately, no chance of a soft landing on the Moon, a writes Astrobotic in a statement published on launch-january-2024.jpg” media=”(min-width: 0px) and (max-width: 1023px)”>Open in full screen mode

Artistic illustration showing Peregrine on the surface of the Moon.

The mission was to mark the first landing of an American spacecraft on the Moon since the end of the Apollo program more than 50 years ago. Astrobotic could also have become the first private company to successfully land on Earth's natural satellite.

Despite this failure, we still have enough fuel to continue maneuvering the vehicle like a ship, Astrobotic said. We currently estimate that we will run out of fuel in approximately 40 hours.

The emerging company, based in Pennsylvania, said it continues to receive valuable data for its next moon landing attempt.

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The machine took off on Monday from Florida, aboard the new Vulcan Centaur rocket from the industrial group ULA.

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This photo, taken in December 2023, shows the Peregrine lander being prepared to be attached to the Vulcan Centaur rocket from the ULA industrial group, which brings together Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

The lander, named Peregrine, was developed by Astrobotic with financial support from NASA, which commissioned this company to transport scientific equipment to the Moon, a US$108 million contract.

The launch inaugurated a series of lunar missions supported by the American space agency, eager to encourage the development of a lunar economy. NASA has concluded agreements with several companies, including Astrobotic, to send experiments and technologies to the Moon – a program called CLPS.

This failure therefore also marks a setback for the American space agency, even if it was not directly involved in the maneuver. However, she said she was aware of the risks in betting on young companies.

Space flights are a daring adventure, reacted Monday on X NASA boss Bill Nelson after announcing the difficulties encountered. NASA will continue to expand its reach into the cosmos with our commercial partners, he promised.

Another American company selected by NASA for its program, Intuitive Machines, will try the adventure again very soon: it must take off for the Moon in mid-February at the earliest, with a SpaceX rocket.

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The Peregrine lander from the company Astrobotic took off from Florida, aboard the new rocket Vulcan Centaur from the ULA group, which brings together Boeing and Lockheed Martin, on January 8, 2024. Video source: United Launch Alliance via Reuters

The mission of #x27;Astrobotic also carried cargo from private customers on board.

Among them, the ashes or DNA of dozens of people, including those of Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the famous science fiction television series Star Trek . A partnership with the Celestis company, specializing in commemorative space flights.

Sending these ashes to the Moon aroused the anger of the Navajo Native American tribe, who denounced the desecration of a sacred place.

Celestis CEO Charles M. Chafer said Tuesday that his company has enough samples to include its customers in a new flight in case the mission fails to complete. the intended destination.

To date, only four nations – the United States, the Soviet Union, China and the United States – India – have successfully landed a device on the Moon.

In recent years, private Israeli and Japanese companies have also attempted to land on the moon , but these missions ended in crashes.

A mission from the Japanese space agency (JAXA) must also attempt to destroy the planet. land in about two weeks. Russia, for its part, spectacularly missed a moon landing this summer.

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