First US Mission To The Moon In 50 Years Is In Trouble

Yesterday, Astrobotic launched its Peregrine Mission One towards the Moon. It is the third private company attempting to reach our natural satellite and the first one from the US. Today on X (formerly Twitter), the company announced in a statement that an anomaly had occurred and that the spacecraft’s solar panels are no longer pointing stably at the Sun, before releasing a second statement explaining that the source of the anomaly is believed to be in the propulsion system.

In the second statement, Astrobotic explains that if this is confirmed, the mission won’t be able to soft-land on the Moon. In the same message, they report that the batteries of the spacecraft are low and that they experienced a loss of communication after a maneuver was attempted to reorient the solar panels toward the Sun.

Engineers are working to solve the situation and it is not clear what the fate of this mission will be. It was envisioned as the first American return to the Lunar Soil in 50 years and, while a private mission, it had involvement from NASA and many other institutions. It carries 21 payloads ranging from experiments to human remains from private company Celestis. The latter has been mired in controversy as many people objected to the “burial” of people on the Moon. 

There is no regulation on what can and cannot be sent to the Moon. In fact, the mission also carries some cryptocurrency-themed payloads, as well as a piece of Mount Everest. The other two commercial missions that attempted a soft landing on the Moon were from Israel and Japan and both of them crash-landed on the gray world above our heads.

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