The first US-built lunar lander since the days of Apollo is leaking fuel – and it could put the entire mission at risk.
Peregrine Mission One, a lunar lander built by Astrobotic, started leaking fuel hours after it launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Monday.
“Unfortunately, it appears the failure within the propulsion system is causing a critical loss of propellant,” the company said in an update Monday afternoon.
In a later update, Astrobotic released the first image from Peregrine in space. You can see the silvery Multi-Layer Insulation in the foreground. Note how it looks like someone took a hammer to it.
“The disturbance of the MLI is the first visual clue that aligns with our telemetry data pointing to a propulsion system anomaly,” the company said.
Now, the team is “using Peregrine’s existing power to perform as many payload and spacecraft operations as possible,” Astrobotic added.
In other words, the Moon landing may be in jeopardy and Astrobotic is trying to glean as much from this mission, so far, as it can.
What’s on board?
Peregrine Mission One is a nearly 2,900-pound uncrewed lander that carries 20 payloads from seven countries and 16 companies.
The lander was not just the first lander built in the US since Grumman built the Apollo Lunar Module, but also the first shot at the Moon for a number of countries.
The lander carries the first lunar surface payloads for the German and Mexican space agencies, and the first lunar payloads from the United Kingdom, Hungary, and the Seychelles, Astrobotic said in a press release.
“One payload, DHL MoonBox, contains mementos and messages from over 100,000 individuals around the world,” the company said.
The lander took off on a United Launch Alliance Vulcan rocket early Monday and successfully separated in space. But after powering up, an “anomaly” occurred with Peregrine’s propulsion system that kept it from pointing towards the Sun, Astrobotic said.
The lander’s batteries started to die, so the team had to improvise a maneuver to get the lander’s solar panels pointed toward the Sun. It worked, but the fuel leak appears to be dire.
“The team is working to try and stabilize this loss” of fuel, Astrobotic said.
This article was originally published by Business Insider.
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