NASA-backed spacecraft carrying JFK’s DNA to the moon could CRASH on lunar surface after suffering ‘anomaly’ – remains of former president and hundreds more could be lost forever

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • A private mission carrying human remains to the moon suffered an anomaly
  • The craft was unable to point its solar panels toward the sun while in space
  • READ MORE:  First US lunar lander since Apollo launches towards the moon

A lunar lander which launched from Florida this morning to carry human remains to the moon has suffered an ‘anomaly’.

The 1.2-ton lander is carrying $108 million worth of NASA instruments, a hair sample from US President John F Kennedy, and the ashes of hundreds of other people. 

Pittsburg-based Astrobotic announced the Peregrine One lunar lander did not position itself facing the sun, hindering its ability to power up using solar panels. 

The startup determined the issue stems from the propulsion system, which threatens the craft’s ability to land safely on the moon due to its operational levels running low.

The lunar lander launched on top of a brand-new Vulcan rocket constructed by United Launch Alliance on Monday at 2:18am ET from Cape Canaveral.

Separation was successful, but the issue was detected when the lander entered its expected safe operational state about seven hours after liftoff.

Astrobotic said engineers were working on the issue and will provide updates when it has more information.

The lunar lander is inside a craft from Astrobotic Technology, which launched on top of a brand-new Vulcan rocket constructed by United Launch Alliance

The craft is housing the remains of people whose families paid up to $13,000 to have them scattered on the moon.

A hair sample from John F Kennedy is onboard, along with samples of Dwight D Eisenhower and George Washington.

The mission was organized by Celestis, a company that specializes in cremated remains and DNA samples to outer space and offers packages for moon burials that start at $2,500.

Each sample was placed inside a silver-colored cylinder before being loaded into the craft, which will then litter the lunar surface.

Peregrine One launched on top of a brand-new Vulcan rocket constructed by United Launch Alliance on Monday.

Astrobotic noted that the lunar lander and the Vulcan rocket successfully separated, with the lander receiving telemetry via the NASA Deep Space Network.

The 1.2-ton lander is carrying $108 million worth of NASA instruments, a hair sample from US President John F Kennedy, and the ashes (pictured) of hundreds of other people

The 1.2-ton lander is carrying $108 million worth of NASA instruments, a hair sample from US President John F Kennedy, and the ashes (pictured) of hundreds of other people

A hair sample from John F Kennedy is onboard, along with Dwight D Eisenhower and George Washington, for a mission organized by Celestis

A hair sample from John F Kennedy is onboard, along with Dwight D Eisenhower and George Washington, for a mission organized by Celestis

‘Astrobotic-built avionics systems, including the primary command and data handling unit, as well as the thermal, propulsion, and power controllers, all powered on and performed as expected,’ Astrobotic shared.

Peregrine then entered a safe operational state, as expected, but that is when the anomaly was detected.

‘After successful propulsion systems activation, Peregrine entered a safe operational state,’ Astrobotic shared in a statement.

‘Unfortunately, an anomaly then occurred, which prevented Astrobotic from achieving a stable sun-pointing orientation. 

‘The team is responding in real-time as the situation unfolds and will be providing updates as more data is obtained and analyzed.’

The Peregrine One Mission is carrying the DNA and ashes of around 60 people, including three Star Trek actors and US President John F Kennedy

The Vulcan Centaur rocket launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station Florida at 2:18am EST and is part of the first in a series of missions for 2024 under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program.

At launch, the rocket used two methane-fuelled engines and two boosters to produce one million pounds of thrust.

Within minutes of ignition, the rocket burned through 701,000 pounds (318,000kg) of fuel and reached half its original weight.

The ‘payload fairing,’ used to protect the rocket from the extreme forces of the launch, was then jettisoned.

This left the rocket at less than 10 percent of its original weight.

After adjusting its trajectory in Earth's orbit, the Peregrine lander will begin its long journey to the Moon for its lunar orbit phase before attempting a landing in February

After adjusting its trajectory in Earth’s orbit, the Peregrine lander will begin its long journey to the Moon for its lunar orbit phase before attempting a landing in February

The Vulcan rocket then entered an orbit around Earth, spending 28 minutes coasting.

Then, 51 minutes and six seconds after launch, the lander detached from the rocket, leaving it ready for its long journey to the moon.

However, that is when the unexpected issue hit.

The lander needs to position its solar panels toward the sun in order to charge up its batteries for the rest of the haul to the lunar surface. 

If the team is able to adjust the craft, the lander is expected to touch down on the moon in February. 

ᴀʀᴛɪᴄʟᴇ ꜱᴏᴜʀᴄᴇ

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