There is no possibility for Peregrine 1 to successfully land on the moon due to a fuel leak.
The US has recently launched its first moon lander in 50 years, but due to a fuel leak, it is unlikely to successfully land on the lunar surface. The operators have stated that their new objective is to travel as far as possible before the power runs out.
Astrobotic, the US company leading the project, reported that Peregrine 1 experienced a “critical loss of propellant” shortly after liftoff on Monday due to an “anomaly” in its propulsion system. This mission aimed to achieve the first commercial soft landing on the moon.
The Astrobotic team announced that they successfully completed an “improvised manoeuvre” to orient the spacecraft towards the sun and charge its batteries, after initially having concerns about its ability to do so. The solar array is now functioning properly.
Later on, the company from Pittsburgh mentioned that their thrusters may only have a maximum of 40 hours left to function. They also stated that their current focus is to get Peregrine as near to the distance of the moon as possible before it can no longer maintain its position facing the sun and loses power.
The company announced in its recent release on Tuesday that the spacecraft was unable to make a gentle landing on the moon. Astrobotic stated that the revised mission for Peregrine 1 was to collect data that could potentially be helpful for a future lunar landing journey.
The spacecraft, equipped with scientific instruments from Nasa, was launched on the Vulcan Centaur rocket from Cape Canaveral. This marks the inaugural flight of the robust new rocket, developed by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed.
Peregrine was planned to arrive on the moon on February 23rd, where it would have started collecting information about the surface of the moon to aid in the study for upcoming human expeditions.
On the ship, there are tools that can gauge levels of radiation, water ice on the surface and below, the magnetic field, and the thin layer of gas called the exosphere. The vessel also carries five compact moon rovers, each weighing less than 60g and measuring 12cm in diameter.
The spacecraft also holds other items, not related to scientific research, such as genetic material from past American presidents like George Washington, John F Kennedy, and Dwight Eisenhower. These artifacts may now remain in outer space. The remains of Gene Roddenberry, the person who created Star Trek, and those of previous stars from the TV show, are also present on the spacecraft.
Nasa issued a statement addressing the reported failure of the lander, stating that they are collaborating with Astrobotic to determine the source of the propulsion issue. They also acknowledged the difficulty of space exploration.
On Tuesday, Nasa announced further postponements for its Artemis moon mission. The first manned lunar landing in 50 years is now planned for 2026, as development hurdles are being encountered by spacecraft from SpaceX, Lockheed Martin, and other companies.
The American space agency did not provide any additional information regarding the Peregrine 1 announcement.
NASA has announced that Artemis 3, the initial human mission to the moon utilizing SpaceX’s Starship, has been rescheduled for September 2026. This date has been pushed back from its original target of late 2025.
Reuters contributed reporting