Updated January 10th, 2024 at 13:58 IST
Astrobotic Tech’s lunar landing set to fail after major fuel leak
United Launch Alliance clarified that its newly introduced Vulcan rocket, responsible for the launch, is not suspected to have contributed to the malfunction.
Major propellant leak: A major fuel leak compelled Astrobotic Technology, a US-based company, to abandon its mission of landing a spacecraft on the lunar surface on Tuesday. The malfunction, suspected to be due to a ruptured fuel tank, followed by a series of challenges for the spacecraft soon after its launch on Monday. Issues arose as the craft struggled to maintain its solar panel orientation towards the sun, hindering its ability to harness solar energy effectively.
In an official statement, Astrobotic confirmed, "Due to the propellant leak, a successful soft landing on the moon is unattainable." The company had initially aimed for a lunar landing on February 23, envisaging a fuel-efficient trajectory to the moon. This venture held the potential to mark the first US moon landing in over five decades and would have represented a pioneering achievement for a private enterprise. A subsequent lunar landing attempt is scheduled for the upcoming month by a Houston-based company.
Successful moon landings have been accomplished by only four nations to date which includes India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission.
Astrobotic, headquartered in Pittsburgh, outlined its revised objective: prolonging the spacecraft's operational lifespan in space to mitigate similar challenges in future missions, anticipated approximately a year hence. Flight controllers successfully maintained the spacecraft's solar orientation, ensuring a fully charged battery and projecting an additional 40 hours of operational capability.
Notably, United Launch Alliance clarified that its newly introduced Vulcan rocket, responsible for the launch, is not suspected to have contributed to the malfunction.
Astrobotic's mission, funded by NASA at a cost of $108 million, aimed to transport the agency's experiments to the lunar surface, forming part of NASA's broader commercial lunar initiative.
Published January 10th, 2024 at 13:58 IST