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Lunar Lander Problems

LIFTOFF The Vulcan Centaur rocket was launched on January 8. A critical fuel leak was noticed hours later. CHANDAN KHANNA—AFP/GETTY IMAGES

On January 8, a rocket built by Astrobotic Technology launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It carried a lunar lander built for NASA by Astrobotic. This was the first U.S. lander to go into space in more than 50 years. But not long after the launch, the mission was abandoned.

Astrobotic hoped to be the first private business to land on the moon. But hours after launch, it reported a fuel leak in the lander. This made landing on the moon impossible.

“Given the situation, we have prioritized maximizing the science and data we can capture,” the company said in a statement. Astrobotic got nearly $80 million in funding from NASA. NASA’s Artemis program will put astronauts on the moon. That hasn’t happened since 1972. Astrobotics will deliver tools there. They’ll be ready for the astronauts’ planned arrival in 2026.

NASA remains hopeful. Joel Kearns is an administrator there. “Each success and setback are opportunities to learn and grow,” he says.

DELIVERY SERVICE Astrobotic Technology’s Peregrine lunar lander may take NASA equipment to the moon ahead of the space agency’s Artemis missions.


Stop & Think! What makes this story newsworthy? Why is it important to know about the mission, even though it was not successful?