UpdateBad news for America's first commercial lunar lander. The device ran into trouble immediately after a few hours of launch. The astrobotic company that created Peregrine – reports that an “anomaly” has occurred. The lunar lander contains measuring instruments, but also the remains and heirlooms of 330 people, including several 'Star Trek' cast members and assassinated US President JFK.
The launch took place at Cape Canaveral, Florida at 8:18 am (Belgium time) and initially appeared to go smoothly. However, at 3:37 p.m. today, Astrobotic reported an “anomaly” that prevented it from acquiring “a stable orientation toward the Sun.”
This indicates that the lunar lander's solar panels are not getting enough energy, causing it to shut down. “Our team is working to resolve the issue as it emerges,” the startup said. The company promises updates as more information becomes available.
The spacecraft is scheduled to reach the moon on February 23. The target is the sinus viscositatis, or 'bay of stickiness', where traces of water molecules can be found. If the mission is successful, Peregrine will be the first US spacecraft to land on the lunar surface since Apollo 17 in 1972, when astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt visited our moon.
Peregrine was supposed to take off earlier, but the rocket that was supposed to carry the lander to the moon ran into trouble during the test.
The lander has five NASA measuring instruments. For this, the American space agency paid 98.5 million euros. But the remains of 330 people, including 'Star Trek' actors Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura), James Doohan (Scotty) and DeForest Kelly (Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy).
Anonymous donors include former presidents George Washington, John F. Kennedy and Dwight D. Donated hair from Eisenhower. However, this mission is mainly aimed at practicing a flight to the moon and a hard landing there.
The US hopes companies can help build bases on the moon. For example, they can fly cargo. With a width of 2.5 meters and a height of almost 2 meters, the peregrine can carry a weight of 265 kg.
The Japanese attempt failed
The Peregrine flight was not the first attempt by a commercial space agency to land on the moon. Last year, the Japanese company iSpace tried to land the lander, but failed. The ship crashed on the moon and was lost. Only the United States, the Soviet Union, China and India have succeeded in landing on the moon.
By the end of this year, people will go to the moon and back without landing there for the first time. Three Americans and one Canadian were on board. People could set foot on the moon again by the end of next year. The flight's four crew members have not yet been identified.
See more. Will astronauts set foot on the moon again soon? Science expert Martijn Peters explains
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