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The first lunar lander mission in decades is experiencing an anomaly

 United Launch Alliance's Vulcan Centaur rocket taking off from Cape Canaveral.
Brandon Moser
United Launch Alliance's Vulcan Centaur rocket taking off from Cape Canaveral.

The Vulcan Centaur Rocket left the ground at 2:18 am this morning from Cape Canaveral, bringing Astrobotic’s Peregrine moon lander on board.

The lander is expected to touch down on the lunar surface on Friday, February 23. After separating from Vulcan, the lander was functioning as expected, but it is not achieving a stable sun-pointing orientation.

Astrobotic said this malfunction is a propulsion anomaly. However, without being able to point its solar panels at the sun, Peregrine can't charge its power. This could affect the ability of Peregrine soft landing on the moon.

Astrobotics said its team is working on resolving this issue and will provide updates.

Joel Kearns, deputy associate administrator for exploration at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, commented on Peregrine's malfunction.

“Each success and setback are opportunities to learn and grow," Kearns said. "We will use this lesson to propel our efforts to advance science, exploration, and commercial development of the Moon.”

This launch is a big step for moon exploration, according to Jim Gregory, Dean of the College of Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

“As we see the cadence of launches increasing, it's like Central Florida is the space triangle and is becoming a gateway to space,” Gregory said. "Much like St Louis was the gateway to the West, we're seeing that central Florida is going to be and is the gateway to space."

This mission will be the first moon landing in decades. The moon lander is carrying 20 payloads, including five from NASA as part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services Initiative. This initiative delivers science and technology to the lunar surface and includes the Artemis program, which hopes to reestablish a human presence on the moon.

The payloads also on board are a student-led rover named Iris and human remainsthat plan to be deposited on the moon.

Copyright 2024 WMFE. To see more, visit WMFE.

Marian Summerall