Astrobotic Technology’s Peregrine lander, which aimed to achieve the first U.S. moon landing in more than 50 years by a private company, had to abandon the mission due to a crippling fuel leak. The lander began losing fuel shortly after its launch, possibly due to a ruptured tank. Astrobotic intended to perform a soft landing on the moon on February 23. The company is now focused on extending the lander’s operations in space to gather data and avoid a similar issue on its next mission.
The issue was identified as a possible stuck valve causing high-pressure helium to flood an oxidizer tank, leading to a burst. Astrobotic plans to conduct a formal review to determine the exact cause of the problem. Despite the setback, the company managed to keep the lander operational, with flight controllers pointing it towards the sun to generate solar power. Another lunar lander, from a Houston-based company, is scheduled to launch next month.
NASA had contracted Astrobotic for $108 million to carry its experiments to the moon as part of the agency’s commercial lunar program. The mission aimed to make history with the first private U.S. company landing on the moon, showcasing the growing role of commercial entities in space exploration.