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This American Spacecraft Gained’t Be Touchdown on the Moon, After All

This American Spacecraft Gained’t Be Touchdown on the Moon, After All

After the excitement of a potential moon landing that commenced earlier this week, all hopes for the feat have (metaphorically) fallen back down to Earth.

Astrobotic Technology’s Peregrine spacecraft took off early Monday morning, but after encountering problems shortly after takeoff, the company said Tuesday that the lander would never reach the lunar surface, The Washington Post reported. Initially, Astrobotic had remained hopeful that it might be able to help Peregrine get to the moon, but the craft has been leaking too much fuel.

“Given the propellant leak, there is, unfortunately, no chance of a soft landing on the moon,” the company announced.

The six-foot-tall Peregrine would have been the first U.S. space mission to land softly on the moon since the Apollo flights more than 50 years ago. About seven hours after taking off from Cape Canaveral, though, the lander’s propulsion system experienced a failure and it began to leak fuel, eventually resulting in this un-ideal ending. While no people are on board, the spacecraft is carrying several science experiments, including items that were going to stay on the moon.

Prior to Peregrine’s launch, both Astrobotic and NASA acknowledged the difficulties of space travel, especially as it relates to reaching the moon. And while those challenges will continue to exist, they haven’t deterred Astrobotic from trying again. The company is planning to send another mission to the moon later this year.

“There’s a train of next launches behind me,” Astrobotic CEO John Thornton said before Peregrine took off. “So in the event that we have a bad day somewhere along the mission, we’re going to be gathering all of the data that we’ve received up to that point, and we’re going to learn from it. And we’re going to help industry learn from that. We’re going to get smarter and we’re going to be ready for the next one.”

Another company, Intuitive Machines, is also working with NASA to reach the lunar surface. That group is planning to launch a spacecraft that would land on the south pole of the moon on February 22. It’s all part of NASA’s decade-long investment of $2.6 billion to work with commercial space companies to return to that big piece of cheese in the sky.

Hopefully Intuitive Machines has an easier time getting its spacecraft to the moon.

Source: Robb Report

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