March 4, 2024

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The failed lander will fall on the moon's surface tonight (but that's no reason to panic)

The failed lander will fall on the moon's surface tonight (but that's no reason to panic)

Tonight, the lunar lander will crash into Earth around 9 p.m. It's about this The peregrine falcon, a lunar lander from Astrobotic. A fuel leak has doomed the mission, and the lunar lander will enter Earth's atmosphere tonight over the South Pacific Ocean.

This should have been a special flight: landing the first commercial lander on the moon The peregrine falcon. The lander was launched on January 8 and headed to the Moon. But now ten days have passed and all dreams have faded: a fuel leak prevented the completion of the moon landing The peregrine falcon Not staying in orbit long enough to complete his goal. The expectation is that The peregrine falcon It enters the Earth's atmosphere tonight.

Don't panic
It's unfortunate that the mission ended this way, but there's no reason to panic. This is about a controlled return to land; Astrobotic still controls the lunar lander and expects it to largely burn up in the atmosphere. Of course, there's always a chance that some debris will survive the journey through the atmosphere, but Astrobotic has charted the course in such a way that the debris ends up far from civilization – in the ocean.

Fuel leakage
Lunar landing The peregrine falcon It is part of a very special initiative: NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS). The basic idea of ​​this initiative is that NASA eventually wants to work on the possibility of housing people directly on the Moon. To make this possible, it is very important that objects are sent from Earth to the Moon. And NASA doesn't want to arrange all of this itself; The US space agency does it inside Commercial lunar payload servicesThe program appeals to commercial companies. Astrobotic was the first company to actually attempt – on behalf of NASA – to fly to the Moon, but disaster struck a few hours after launch. Then Astrobotic discovered it The peregrine falcon He had a lot of trouble staying on track.

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Exactly what happened is still unknown, but company employees now have a hypothesis: The problem is most likely that the valve between a number of different fuel compartments did not close properly, putting too much pressure on the tank and eventually rupturing it. Although knowing that The peregrine falcon To continue flying for four days, eventually reaching the Moon's orbit around Earth. Inspite of that The peregrine falcon Now that it had arrived at its destination, the moon had to wait a little longer. That was the intention The peregrine falcon It will remain at this altitude until it can finally attempt a lunar landing on February 23. But unfortunately; A fuel leak prevented the lunar lander from remaining at the correct altitude long enough to achieve an encounter.

Business flight
As mentioned earlier, it is important The peregrine falcon Very distinguished. Had it not been for the fuel leak, this would have been the first commercial flight to the Moon. There were also instruments, rovers from different countries, and time capsules from different companies on board. For example, DHL has developed a “MoonBox” that contains messages from more than 100,000 people.

very sad
has crashed The peregrine falcon It's especially sad, because the February 23 moon landing should have been a truly special moment. Various updates from the company also show that the tone has become increasingly depressing, with the low point being update #17, where they decided to abandon their big dream. The peregrine falcon It largely burns up in the atmosphere. However, there is also a glimmer of hope for the future: Astrobotic's director, John Thornton, notes that he is proud of his company, especially since they just want to try again later this year. Then they will use a new lunar lander called Griffin. Therefore, it is hoped that he will succeed him The peregrine falcon A better fate awaits. However, the big dream of Astrobotic and NASA will fail tonight – perhaps literally, but at least figuratively.

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