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NASA's return to the Moon postponed: Peregrine One is in "critical" condition and may crash

Dmytro IvancheskulNews
Peregrine One was to be the first step in returning humans to the Moon. Source: Astrobotic/collage by OBOZ.UA

The first launch of an American lunar rover in 50 years has turned from a scientific sensation to a disappointment. Peregrine One, which was built by the private space company Astrobotic for NASA's money, failed to orient itself to the Sun, then found itself in a critical condition and will most likely never reach the Earth's satellite.

Peregrine One was launched on January 8 from Cape Canaveral by a United Launch Alliance Vulcan rocket, the rocket's first flight. The initial stage of the flight was successful but then everything went wrong.

"An anomaly occurred that prevented Astrobotic from achieving a stable orientation to the Sun," Astrobotic said.

Simply put, the device was unable to use the sun's rays to fully charge its battery. This was already a harbinger of serious problems.

Later, the company reported that the situation "threatens the spacecraft's ability to make a soft landing on the Moon." In other words, the developers recognized that their vehicle could simply crash on the lunar surface.

But Astrobotic, of course, did not plan to give up. A maneuver was urgently developed to reorient Peregrine One's solar panels toward the Sun. However, it was not the best day for the company and the quickly developed plan had some unforeseen consequences that led to the loss of communication with the vehicle.

Subsequently, the company made a new statement, admitting that the first lander launched under the auspices of NASA since 1972 had suffered "critical" damage and was almost certainly going to fail.

The company said it is trying to "stabilize this loss," but given the situation, it has prioritized collecting as much scientific data on the operation of the vehicle as possible.

Analysts suggest that Astrobotic has actually admitted that Peregrine One, which contains physical bitcoin, a piece of Mount Everest, and some of the remains of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry among its payloads, will be lost in space and never reach the moon.

In one of the latest updates on the situation, Astrobotic reported that they still managed to charge the device's battery and are trying to get it as close to the moon as possible. But, obviously, this is just a formality that will not result in a soft landing in any case.

Sponsored by the NASA program, the Peregrine lander was supposed to be the first of five commercial space flights that the agency was to make to deliver payloads to the lunar surface.

If successful, it would also be the first commercial spacecraft to ever land on the lunar surface and the first American spacecraft to land on the moon in 50 years.

Astrobotic has been working on the mission with NASA for almost 10 years, so the American agency will obviously be extremely disappointed with these results.

NASA, commenting on the situation, said that "every mission is an opportunity to learn".

Earlier, OBOZ.UA explained why everyone is so eager to land on the south pole of the Moon.

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