Surprisingly, a US commercial lunar lander that began leaking fuel shortly after launch on Monday is still operational. The space company Astrobotic stated that the Peregrine rover is “stable and ready to operate” and is on its way to the moon, and has enough fuel for 52 hours and perhaps longer. Undaunted, the lunar lander continues to collect data, but the hope of a historic lunar landing has faded.
No commercial company has ever succeeded in landing on the moon. The American company Astrobotic, which designed and built the Peregrine lander, will not make it either. The takeoff went smoothly on Monday, but fuel soon began leaking. The space company now hopes the mission will last as long as possible, so Peregrine can collect as much data as possible along the way. This could help with subsequent flights to the Moon. “We are looking into alternative mission objectives that are still possible,” the company said.
It’s clear that Peregrine is doing his best and Astrobotic’s engineers are doing a hard job. There is growing optimism that a lunar lander may survive longer than 52 hours. This is already much more than was estimated in previous reports. The rate of fuel leakage from the lunar lander appears to decrease over time. There’s not enough fuel for a smooth landing anyway.
Peregrine’s mission was initially intended mainly to practice flying to the Moon and making a hard landing there. The United States wants to put humans back on the moon and bring them back in the coming years, and hopes companies can help build bases on the moon. For example, they can transport goods by plane. The Shaheen is 2.5 meters wide and about 2 meters high, and can carry a payload of up to 265 kilograms.
At the end of this year, Astrobotic wants to bring a larger lander to the Moon, with an unmanned rover on board. It will search for traces of water ice at the moon’s south pole.
So far, only the United States, the Soviet Union, China and India have succeeded in landing safely on the moon. Attempts by Israel and a Japanese company, among others, failed, as did the first Indian landing on the moon.
Read also: Why did things suddenly go wrong on recent moon missions? “Returning to the moon is not that simple at all” (+)
Watch also. Unfortunately, the lunar lander soon ran into problems
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