The Peregrine lander, which departed Monday with a Vulcan Centaur rocket to reach Earth's natural satellite, risks crashing on the moon due to a fuel leak.
The US private lander, which took off on Monday but encountered serious problems in flight shortly after, had “no chance” of landing smoothly on the moon's surface as initially planned, Astrobotic, which developed the lander, said on Tuesday. . device.
Because of the fuel “leakage,” “unfortunately, there is no chance of a smooth landing on the Moon,” Astrobotic wrote in a statement posted on X.
The mission marked the first landing of an American spacecraft on the moon since the end of the Apollo program more than 50 years ago. Astrobotic would also have become the first private company to successfully land on the moon.
“Valuable data” was collected.
Despite this failure, “we still have enough fuel to continue operating the vehicle like a ship,” Astrobotic said. “We currently estimate that we will run out of fuel in approximately 40 hours.”
The Pennsylvania-based startup said it continues to receive “valuable data” for its next attempt to land on the moon.
The machine took off on Monday from Florida on board a new Vulcan Centaur rocket from the ULA Industrial Group.
The lander, called Peregrine, was developed by Astrobotic with financial support from NASA, which commissioned this company to transport scientific equipment to the Moon, with a contract worth $108 million.
Landing on the moon, a very difficult stage
The launch inaugurated a series of lunar missions supported by the US space agency, keen to encourage the development of the lunar economy.
In recent years, private Israeli and Japanese companies have also attempted to land on the moon, but these missions ended in accidents.
So far, only four countries – the United States, the Soviet Union, China and India – have succeeded in landing a vehicle on the moon.
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