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The US private Peregrine lander loses fuel in space, putting its mission in jeopardy

The US private Peregrine lander loses fuel in space, putting its mission in jeopardy

The first US spacecraft landing on the moon in more than 50 years may have been delayed, as a private lander encountered an “anomaly” shortly after lift-off on Monday and is now losing fuel during the flight, Astrobotic said after its development. .

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The lander took off before dawn on Monday from Florida aboard a new Vulcan Centaur rocket belonging to the ULA group, which brings together Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The device, called Peregrine, was turned on shortly after it separated from the rocket, and contact was successfully made.

but “ Unfortunately, an anomaly occurred », Astrobotic explained in a statement on the X website. This prevented the company from redirecting the device towards the sun, so that it could recharge its batteries using its solar panels. The company later explained that the problem was caused by “ probably » A problem with the payment system. “ If this is the case “, which” It jeopardizes the ship's ability to land on the moon “, the company said.

a “ Improvised maneuver » It was implemented to redirect solar panels towards the sun, allowing the batteries to start charging again. But failure of the payment system causes “ Critical loss » of fuel, then Astrobotic added. “ Teams are working to stabilize this loss, but given the current situation, we have prioritized maximizing loss » The company said: Scientific data that can be collected. “ We are currently evaluating alternative mission profiles that may be possible at this time. »

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Peregrine was developed by Astrobotic with support from NASA, which tasked the company with transporting scientific equipment to the Moon — a $108 million contract. “ Every assignment is an opportunity to learn », NASA responded to X. Astrobotic hopes to become the first company to successfully land on the moon. The lunar landing attempt was scheduled for February 23.

In recent years, Israeli and Japanese companies have also attempted to land on the moon, but these missions ended in accidents. “ Leading America's return to the moon's surface, for the first time since Apollo, is a great honor “, Astrobotic President John Thornton announced in a press conference on Friday. But he said he realizes the risks of failure.

(with France Press agency)