Mission to the Moon-Failed?

On January 8, 2024, the United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket launched for the first time, carrying the Peregrine lander to the lunar surface. The mission was intended to deliver scientific equipment to the Gruithuisen Domes region of the moon and was a collaboration between NASA and Astrobotic.

However, the mission encountered some setbacks. The lander was unable to reorient its solar panels to point at the sun so its batteries could charge. The ground-based engineering team eventually managed to turn them, only for further problems to develop. The spacecraft is unlikely to reach the lunar surface due to a fuel leak that was causing the thrusters of Peregrine’s altitude control system to operate beyond their expected service life cycles. These thrusters are essential to keeping the lander from an uncontrollable tumble. Some of the instruments damaged on the lander are designed to take readings that could minimize risks and lay some of the groundwork for NASA’s Artemis program, which hopes to enable a sustained human presence on the moon.

The future of the mission depends largely on the outcome of the current situation and the actions of NASA and Congress. However, even in the face of unexpected calamities, the mission has been a significant milestone in the history of space exploration and has demonstrated the potential of the Vulcan rocket to become a cornerstone vehicle in the industry.

-Author: Tara Lallier-Space Coast Resident and Business Owner

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