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Homechevron_rightSciencechevron_rightFuel leak causes...

Fuel leak causes private lunar lander to uncontrollably fall to earth

Fuel leak causes private lunar lander to uncontrollably fall to earth

The Peregrine lunar lander launched just a week ago with high hopes, is now spiralling towards an uncontrolled descent back to Earth, marking a significant setback for private lunar exploration.

The spacecraft, crafted by Astrobotic and riding atop a United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur rocket, encountered a critical fuel leak shortly after separating from its booster stage, rendering it incapable of achieving its intended soft landing on the moon.

Astrobotic, a Pittsburgh-based company, had ambitious plans for Peregrine, aiming to make a mark in the realm of private lunar exploration. However, the fuel leak not only shattered these dreams but has also set the lander on an unavoidable collision course with Earth.

Efforts by Astrobotic's engineers to salvage the situation have been ongoing, but the prognosis remains grim. The company's latest trajectory analysis suggests that Peregrine is destined to fall into Earth's atmosphere, where it is expected to disintegrate upon reentry.

"Our analysis efforts have been challenging due to the propellant leak, adding uncertainty to predictions of the vehicle's trajectory," stated Astrobotic in a recent update. Despite the team's relentless efforts to extend the lander's operational life, the reality is that Peregrine's days are numbered.

While the exact date and location of the impending re-entry remain uncertain, Astrobotic has acknowledged the inevitability of the spacecraft's fiery end. The lander's misfortune deals a blow to NASA's efforts to engage commercial partners in lunar exploration initiatives, as Peregrine carried five NASA science instruments among other payloads, all of which are now deemed lost.

Despite this setback, NASA remains undeterred in its ambitious plans to leverage commercial capabilities for future lunar missions. Astrobotic has assured that it is working closely with NASA and other stakeholders to ensure the most responsible course of action is taken to conclude Peregrine's mission.

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TAGS:NASAMoon landingPeregrine lunar landerAstrobotic
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