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US lunar lander has ‘no chance of soft landing’ on moon

A private US lunar lander has “no chance of soft landing” on the moon because it has lost too much fuel, Astrobotic, the company behind the robot, has said.

The company estimated that the Peregrine lunar lander has about 40 hours of fuel remaining, an improvement on an earlier estimate, and said it planned to continue to operate the spacecraft until it ran out of propellant.

The amount of fuel left on the lander will allow it to operate “as a spacecraft” even as engineers determine what its new mission in orbit will be, the space robotics firm said.

The craft was launched aboard the first flight of Vulcan, a rocket that had been under development for a decade by United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

The lander was launched successfully at 7.18am Irish time yesterday from Cape Canaveral, Florida, but it suffered a propulsion system issue en route to the moon.

After the launch, the lander failed to enter its correct sun-facing orientation in space and saw its battery levels plummet, but Astrobotic was able to fix the issue, the company said.

“The team continues to work to find ways to extend Peregrine’s operational life,” it said, adding that engineers are receiving data and proving spaceflight operations for components and software related to its next lunar lander mission.

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