Plans for lunar landing scrapped after spacecraft fuel leak

Plans for a spacecraft’s lunar landing have been scrapped due to a fuel leak, according to an American aerospace company.

Astrobotic Technology said the Peregrine spacecraft, which was meant to land on the moon, has been “operational” for approximately 32 hours, in a statement posted to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter Tuesday. The spacecraft launched early Monday morning in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

“Given the propellant leak, there is, unfortunately, no chance of a soft landing on the Moon,” the company’s statement on X read

“However, we do still have enough propellant to continue to operate the vehicle as a spacecraft,” the Astrobotic Technology statement continued. “The team has updated its estimates, and we currently expect to run out of propellant in about 40 hours from now — an improvement from last night’s estimate.”

Astrobiotic says it continues “receiving valuable data and proving spaceflight operations for components and software” related to its next lunar landing mission, called Griffin.

The Pittsburgh-based aerospace company said Monday that an “anomaly” was stopping the spacecraft from “achieving a stable sun-pointing position” that was tampering with its ability to receive solar energy. Flight engineers had been able to orient Peregrine in the direction of the sun to get solar energy, but then lost communication with it.

“Overnight, the team faced another spacecraft pointing issue, but continues to persevere. The spacecraft started to tilt away from the Sun and reduced its solar power generation,” Tuesday’s statement from the company read. “The team was able to update the control algorithm and fix this issue. The batteries are at full charge.”

The company aimed to be the first private business to successfully land on the moon. A second private lunar landing project is due to launch next month. Peregrine and the upcoming project are both backed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).