Astrobotic Prepares the Next Lunar Lander After the Peregrine Moon Mission Fails

Astrobotic Prepares the Next Lunar Lander After the Peregrine Moon Mission Fails

Even though the first commercial lunar lander to operate in space failed, Astrobotic Technology is moving forward with its next moon mission, which is still scheduled for launch before the end of the year.

The adjacent Moonshot Museum offers a view of the Astrobotic Griffin Mission One lander’s hardware build-up, which is now on display at the Pittsburgh-based private corporation. The largest lunar lander since the Apollo lunar module is the planned Griffin moon lander.

Without question, Griffin’s upcoming flight represents a significant milestone for NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, which contracts American businesses to deliver science and technology to the lunar surface. It also marks a crucial link to NASA’s Artemis Program, which aims to explore the moon with humans.

Lunar Apparatus

The Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, is a first-of-its-kind Artemis lunar rover that will be carried by the Griffin spacecraft upon launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.

During a 100-day mission, VIPER is intended to land close to the moon’s south pole and wheel about at Mons Mouton, a flat-topped mountain next to the Nobile Crater’s western rim.

NASA sees the robotic rover as a valuable instrument for gathering vital data regarding the formation and dispersal of water ice on the moon. By doing this, VIPER will be able to assess how clearly the goal of utilizing lunar resources to support human exploration of Earth’s neighboring planet is being seen.

Rough, Rocky Road

However, Astrobotic’s journey to the moon has been a difficult one. The nearly $100 million loss The Peregrine Mission According to John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic, there were many highs and lows throughout one lunar lander mission.

“These missions are very difficult to start with,” Thornton told. “We’re doing it at a fraction of what it normally costs to get these missions done. The challenge is to fly these at the budget we’re attempting to do here. And if we’re successful at that, that means you can fly again, again and again.”

Shortly after the company’s Peregrine lunar lander was launched on January 8, it encountered difficulties when the next generation Vulcan Centaur rocket from United Launch Alliance made its first successful lunar landing.

It was nerve-wracking to be on the Vulcan booster’s first flight, but Thornton said they did a fantastic job. But Peregrine was in trouble within hours.

Peregrine Hazards

A propulsion malfunction shortly after takeoff caused Peregrine to abort its multi-engine burn journey, which allowed it to make a four-legged soft landing near the Gruithuisen Domes area of the moon.

“It failed in the beginning and then we got 10 days of operations after that. So we got a ton of data to hone in on specifically what happened. There’s still uncertainty of what that failure was,” Thornton said, be it a material failure, foreign object debris in a valve, perhaps a design issue. “There’s some parts of that you can never know,” he said.

Flight control teams collected a great deal of information and comments regarding systems on other spacecraft, especially Astrobotic-built ones. Fortunately, we were able to maintain contact. The worst-case scenario from the perspective of debugging the system would have been that.

A failure review group, according to Thornton, is currently investigating the Peregrine’s shortcomings “to make spacecraft better in the future.”

Peregrine Mission One was ordered to make a devastating, controlled re-entry into South Pacific ocean waters on January 18, during the last days of the troubled mission. Twenty payloads from seven countries and sixteen business clients were transported by Peregrine.

Significant Advancement

Thornton is still optimistic about the NASA CLPS model of conducting business on the moon, even with Peregrine’s loss.

“I think it’s achievable and I believe we’re on the precipice of that as an industry,” said Thornton. “We’re making serious progress.”

What does Thornton think about Intuitive Machines’ gentle landing of its Odysseus spacecraft at the moon’s south pole on February 22?

From the perspective of the industry, it’s significant. It indicates that, with a little more time, the model should function, according to Thornton. “I think that’s the biggest victory we can achieve. Astrobotic will eventually succeed if the industry succeeds.”

On their website, Astrobotic provided a last Peregrine Mission One update:

Sanchita Patil

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