Moon lander malfunctions after launch, questions raised on NASA
The first NASA-funded commercial mission to send a robotic spacecraft to the lunar surface likely won't be able to get there.
The lunar lander, named Peregrine and built by Astrobotic Technology of Pittsburgh, encountered problems shortly after liftoff Monday morning from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The launch rocket, of a completely new design called Vulcan, successfully launched Peregrine. On your journey.
But a failure in the lander's propulsion system caused it to run out of propellant and potentially end the mission's original lunar ambitions.
“The team is working to try to stabilize the damage, but given the situation, we have prioritized maximizing the science and data we can obtain.” Astrobotic said in a statement. “We are currently assessing what alternative mission profiles may be possible at this time.”
The failure calls into question NASA's strategy of relying on private companies, mostly small startups, to bring science experiments to the lunar surface. Those scientific studies are part of preparations before sending astronauts back to the Moon under the space agency's Artemis program.
Peregrine was the first mission to land under NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, or CLPS. Since the announcement of CLPS in 2018, NASA officials have said that they are willing to take more risk in exchange for lower costs and that they expect that few missions will fail.
This is in contrast to the Apollo program of the 1960s, in which NASA built a series of its own robotic lunar landers. But that approach is expensive, and this time NASA wanted to encourage private industry to come up with its own solution that would be cheaper and could create a new market for universities, businesses and space agencies in other countries that want payloads. Want to send. moon.