The launch of the new U.S. Moon lander went off without a hitch early Monday morning, with the brand-new Vulcan rocket lifting off flawlessly. However, the Peregrine lander that it carried into orbit has begun to experience problems, and now Astrobotic is in a race to sort the issues and get things back on track.
The launch is significant for many reasons. The most important being that the Peregrine Lander will be the U.S.’s first lander to land on the moon surface in more than 50 years. But, all that excitement could be for naught if the company behind the lander can’t sort out the problem that is keeping Peregrine from remaining in a steady orientation with the sun.
“The company will provide updates on X as they collect and analyze data. The exact cause of the issue is unclear, but we know that Astrobotic is working hard to figure out the problem and correct it.
An Update on Peregrine Mission One: pic.twitter.com/Q20dGVOMml
— Astrobotic (@astrobotic) January 8, 2024
At the moment, the Peregrine lander issue could prevent the solar arrays on the spacecraft from generating the power they need to operate the lander normally. However, as Peregrine isn’t slated to enter lunar orbit for another two and a half weeks, the engineers at Astrobotic have some time to diagnose and fix the problem.
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It’s unfortunate that this issue has come up, too, as the launch of the Vulcan Centaur rocket was both crucial and one of the highest risks of the project, as the rocket had never been used before today. This is the first in a series of new rockets which could help to chip away the dominant position that SpaceX has currently held within the space industry. It will be needed by more agencies and companies who want to launch spacecraft.
Peregrine is one of the most exciting space missions of 2024. The lander, if all goes well, will bring a very historic spacecraft, which includes two sets of human remains, to the Moon’s surface. Astrobotic must solve the Peregrine issue before they can declare this mission successful.
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