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US Peregrine lander to not reach moon due to fuel leak




The Peregrine lunar lander mounted atop ULV Vulcan Centaur spacecraft will not be able to land on moon due to fuel leakage, its manufacturer said on Tuesday.


The Peregrine lunar lander commenced its journey on Monday, riding the inaugural Vulcan rocket. The separation from the rocket's Centaur upper stage took place around 51 minutes post-launch. Peregrine's primary objective was to enter into an orbit exceeding 220,000 miles above Earth, with plans to intercept the moon.



"An ongoing propellant leak is causing the spacecraft's Attitude Control System (ACS) thrusters to operate well beyond their expected service life cycles to keep the lander from an uncontrollable tumble," Peregrine-manufacturer Astrobotic said in a statement late Monday.


"If the thrusters can continue to operate, we believe the spacecraft could continue in a stable sun pointing state for approximately 40 more hours, based on current fuel consumption," it said. The spacecraft's sun-pointing position is critical for the operation of its solar panels.


"At this time, the goal 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," Astrobotic added.


Astrobotic Technology, around seven hours post-launch,  disclosed that an anomaly had occurred. The exact nature of the anomaly was not detailed in the statement.


"The team is working to try and stabilize this loss, but given the situation, we have prioritized maximizing the science and data we can capture," said the Pittsburgh-based firm. "We are currently assessing what alternative mission profiles may be feasible at this time."


The rocket holds non-scientific payloads, including DNA samples from former US presidents like George Washington, John F. Kennedy, and Dwight Eisenhower.


The mission's current uncertainties may affect the intended fate of these symbolic DNA payloads, which were originally intended to remain in space. The ashes of Gene Roddenberry, the visionary behind Star Trek, and those of former stars from the TV series, are also part of the lander's contents


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