Astrobotic’s Peregrine Spacecraft Could Survive Longer

A picture from the Peregrine spacecraft of the Iris Lunar Rover from Carnegie Mellon University. At the bottom of the overexposed image sent from Peregrine in space are the Iris rover's wheels. To its left is a fuel tank with the American flag. Image credit: Astrobotic.

Astrobotic continues to report updates on its Peregrine spacecraft including noon Eastern today where it stated that the spacecraft has 52 hours of propellant remaining.

In the latest update which included the remaining propellant, Astrobotic reported that the Peregrine spacecraft “remains stable and operational.” They also stated that their “engineers continue to work solutions to extend life expectancy and there is growing optimism that Peregrine could survive much longer than the current estimate.” While this is encouraging, it sill does not change the fact that the spacecraft won’t be able complete its primary mission of soft landing on the moon and delivering the payloads its carrying.

In another update this morning Astrobotic shared an image from the Mexican COLMENA payload team celebrating that their payload was active, sending data and that it was the first Mexican instrument to do so.

Astrobotic provided the following list of payloads that are receiving power.

COLMENA from LINX-UNAM (together with Agencia Espacial Mexicana (AEM))
M-42 Radiation Detector from the German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Linear Energy Transfer Spectrometer (LETS) from NASA’s Johnson Space Center
Near-Infrared Volatile Spectrometer System (NIRVSS) from NASA’s Ames Research Center
Neutron Spectrometer System (NSS) from NASA’s Ames Research Center
Peregrine Ion Trap Mass Spectrometer (PITMS) from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, The Open University (OU), NASA, and the European Space Agency(ESA).
Pocari Sweat’s Lunar Dream Time Capsule from Astroscale
Optical Precision Autonomous Landing (OPAL) TRN sensor from Astrobotic
– (a subsystem) Navigation Doppler Lidar (NDL) from NASA’s Langley Research Center

NASA also posted an update on its Artemis blog where they say “Both Astrobotic and NASA are taking advantage of this flight time by extending the science of Peregrine’s Mission One into cislunar space. NASA payloads including, NSS (Neutron Spectrometer System), LETS (Linear Energy Transfer Spectrometer), PITMS (Peregrine Ion Trap Mass Spectrometer), and NIRVSS (Near Infrared Volatile Spectrometer System) have successfully powered on while the spacecraft has been operationally stable. Since the LRA (Laser Retroreflector Array) instrument is a passive experiment that can only be conducted on the lunar surface, it cannot conduct any operations in transit.”

They further state that “Some of the NASA provided payloads aboard Peregrine were already scheduled for future lunar flights. The team is taking this opportunity to collect as much science data as possible and to further characterize the performance and functionality of the science instruments while the spacecraft follows its current trajectory. Astrobotic is striving to extend Peregrine’s mission, allowing for additional data collection for NASA’s and other customers’ payloads. ”

And that “Two of the payloads, NSS and LETS, are making measurements of the radiation environment in interplanetary space around the Earth and the Moon. The two instruments are measuring different components of the radiation spectrum, which provide complementary insights into the galactic cosmic ray activity and space weather resulting from solar activity. This data helps characterize the interplanetary radiation environment for humans and electronics.”

  • Follow our ongoing coverage of Astrobotic here.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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