10 Jan 2024 18:22

Russian scientists find booster of Peregrine lunar module

MOSCOW. Jan 10 (Interfax) - Russian scientists have found the Centaur booster, which astronomers lost track of after the U.S. private lunar landing module Peregrine was put into orbit, the Russian Academy of Sciences' Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics said.

"During observations conducted late on January 9, 2024 and in the early hours of January 10, 2024 by Vasily Rumyantsev, a researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics, the booster was found and was studied using an AT-64 telescope," the institute said on its Telegram channel.

Astronomers were unable to find the Centaur booster after the Peregrine lunar module was put into orbit, the institute said. It later turned out that the Minor Planet Center had identified that booster as the object found by astronomer Gennady Borisov during his search for asteroids nearing Earth.

The Peregrine was supposed to become the first commercial landing module and the first U.S. landing module in more than 50 years to land on the Moon. A problem with the engine system occurred approximately seven hours after the module's launch on January 8 using the new Vulcan heavy-class launch vehicle made by United Launch Alliance (ULA). The commercial module's soft landing on the Moon was planned for February 23.

According to preliminary data from the developer company Astrobotic Technology, the launch of the Peregrine module's engine system was soon followed by an explosion of an oxidizer tank due to a valve failure, as a result of which the vehicle started losing fuel.

The mission is taking place under a contract between NASA and Astrobotic Technology as part of a program for commercial cargo delivery to the Moon (Commercial Lunar Payload Services, CLPS). NASA paid the company around $108 million for it experiments on the lunar surface.