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The mission of a private American moon lander in danger after an “anomaly”

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Jan8,2024

The mission of a private American moon lander in danger after a «&nbsp ;anomaly »

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The lander took off before dawn Monday from Florida, aboard the group's new Vulcan Centaur rocket ULA, which brings together Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Agence France-Presse

An “anomaly” encountered in flight threatens the entire mission of the first American device to attempt to land on the Moon in more than 50 years, the company Astrobotic which developed it announced on Monday.

The lander took off before dawn Monday from Florida, aboard the new Vulcan Centaur rocket from the ULA group, which brings together Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

The device, named Peregrine, was powered up shortly after separation from the rocket, and communication was successfully established.

But unfortunately, an anomaly occurred that prevented Astrobotic from achieving a stable orientation facing the Sun, the company explained in a statement on X.

However, the lander includes solar panels which must be directed towards the Sun in order to allow maximum electrical production, according to the company's documentation.

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In a second statement, Astrobotic clarified that the problem probably resulted from a problem with the propulsion system.

If so, it jeopardizes the spacecraft's ability to land on the Moon, the company said, adding that the craft's batteries were already reaching low operational levels. p>

An improvised maneuver was carried out to try to reorient the solar panels towards the Sun, just before a period of expected loss of communication, she added . The company said it would provide more information once communication was regained.

Peregrine was developed by Astrobotic with the support of NASA, which commissioned the company to transport scientific equipment to the Moon – a contract worth 108 million dollars.

If Astrobotic manages to land on the Moon as planned on February 23, it could become the first company to achieve this feat.< /p>

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

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Artistic illustration of Blue Moon.

Leading the return of #x27;America on the surface of the Moon, for the first time since Apollo, is a huge honor, Astrobotic boss John Thornton said at a press conference on Friday. However, he said he was aware of the risks of failure.

The targeted landing site for the craft is located on the visible side of the Moon, near mysterious domes formed by lava but which scientists struggle to explain.

Thanks to the instruments shipped, NASA must study the composition of the surface, as well as the radiation.

Studying the lunar environment should in particular make it possible to prepare for the return of astronauts to the Moon, which NASA is planning with its Artemis program.

But NASA is not the only customer on board, and the mission has also caused controversy: Among the private customer cargoes transported are the ashes or DNA of dozens of people, including those of the creator of the famous science fiction television series Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry. A partnership with the Celestis company, specializing in commemorative space flights.

Sending these ashes to the Moon sparked the anger of the Navajo Native American tribe, which denounced the desecration of a place sacred to many Native American cultures, without however obtaining the postponement of the launch.

The launch inaugurated a series of missions supported by the American space agency, eager to encourage the development of a true lunar economy.

A failure of the mission would not fail to raise questions about this new strategy of NASA, which wishes to rely partly on the private sector for its lunar ambitions.

It has signed a contract with several companies, including Astrobotic, to send scientific equipment to the Moon. The program, called CLPS, provides companies with crucial financing.

Another selected company, Intuitive Machines, is also scheduled to take off for the Moon in mid-February with a SpaceX rocket.

This should allow NASA to make the trip more often, more quickly and for less, explained Joel Kearns, top responsible within the space agency.

To date, only the United States, the Soviet Union, China and India have succeeded in landing a device on the Moon.

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

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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