Miami, Jan 8 (EFE).- The US commercial lunar mission Peregrine, which is carrying instruments and experiments from NASA and several other countries to the lunar surface, successfully lifted off early Monday morning from central Florida, but is struggling to get power to reach its destination, according to Astrobotic.
The company stated that its Peregrine spacecraft experienced an “anomaly” preventing it from stably pointing its solar panels at the sun.
It added in a new update that the likely cause is a “propulsion anomaly that, if proven true, threatens the ability of the spacecraft to soft-land on the Moon.”
The company says that “the spacecraft battery is reaching operationally low levels” and that, as predicted, it has lost communication with the spacecraft.
“Just before entering a known period of communication outage, the team developed and executed an improvised maneuver to reorient the solar panels toward the Sun,” the company added.
After this maneuver, “the spacecraft entered an expected period of communication loss.”
The company stressed through social media that the mission, the first US commercial robotic mission to the moon, would not be able to continue unless they manage to recharge the batteries and maintain a power supply.
Astrobotic’s Peregrine Mission One (PM1) successfully launched early Monday morning atop United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) powerful new Vulcan Centaur rocket from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
Astrobotic said the Peregrine entered a “safe” operational state after successfully activating its propulsion systems.
However, “unfortunately, an anomaly then occurred, which prevented Astrobotic from achieving a stable sun-pointing orientation,” it added.
The company said the module, which is 1.9 meters high and 2.5 meters wide, successfully separated from the Vulcan rocket.
In this regard, ULA said that despite the problems with the lander, the first mission of the Vulcan rocket is another step toward returning humans to the moon.
“The first US commercial robotic launch to the Moon successfully lifted off Jan. 8 on the first flight of ULA’s VulcanRocket. Astrobotic’s Peregrine Mission 1 lander is expected to reach the lunar surface in February,” NASA said on its X (formerly Twitter) account.
Astrobotic highlighted that the lunar lander began receiving telemetry through NASA’s Deep Space Network prior to the failure.
It added that at that point the avionics systems (including the main command and data processing unit, as well as the thermal, propulsion, and power controllers) were powered up and functioning as expected.
The company detailed that engineers are working on the issue and will provide updates when they have more information.
The new two-stage rocket launched on Monday with two payloads: the Peregrine lander for NASA and a commercial payload containing DNA samples of three former US presidents and ashes of actors from the original Star Trek television series. EFE