Astrobotic’s groundbreaking private lunar lander encountered an anomaly during its journey to the moon, potentially impacting its historic moon-landing mission. Launched atop ULA’s new Vulcan Centaur rocket, Peregrine, aiming to be the first private mission to safely land on the lunar surface, faced challenges just hours into its voyage. Astrobotic reported an anomaly after the successful activation of propulsion systems, preventing the lander from achieving a stable sun-pointing orientation.
The team suspects a propulsion anomaly as the likely cause, jeopardizing Peregrine’s ability to soft-land on the moon. Astrobotic is actively responding to the situation, providing real-time updates as data is collected and analyzed. The propulsion issue poses a threat to a range of payloads, including NASA’s five scientific experiments, Mexico’s autonomous robots, Carnegie Mellon University’s Nano Lunar Rover, and unique items like a piece of Mt. Everest and lunar Bitcoin.
A key concern is Peregrine’s battery life, crucial for power generation. The spacecraft requires sun-pointing orientation to replenish its systems. The team executed an improvised maneuver to reorient the solar panels towards the sun, but with communication loss expected, uncertainties loom. Peregrine completed a phasing loop around Earth for course corrections and trajectory adjustments, targeting a descent to the lunar south pole on Feb. 23.
While ULA’s Vulcan Centaur rocket showcased a successful first flight, Astrobotic faces a race against time to troubleshoot the anomaly and safeguard the diverse payloads on Peregrine. Updates on resolution efforts can be found on Astrobotic’s communication channel.