WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Astrobotic's Peregrine lunar lander has "no chance" of a soft landing on the moon after springing a propellant leak in the first few hours of its journey in space, the company said on Tuesday about the first such U.S. attempt in five decades.
There was 40 hours of fuel left on the lander that will allow it to operate "as a spacecraft" even as engineers determine what its new mission in orbit will be, the space robotics firm said.
The craft was launched aboard the first flight of Vulcan, a rocket that had been under development for a decade by United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
The lander was launched successfully at 2:18 a.m. ET on Monday from Cape Canaveral, Florida, but it suffered a propulsion system issue enroute to the moon.
After the launch, the lander failed to enter its correct sun-facing orientation in space and saw its battery levels plummet, but Astrobotic was able to fix the issue, the company said.
"The team continues to work to find ways to extend Peregrine's operational life," it said, adding that engineers are receiving data and proving spaceflight operations for components and software related to its next lunar lander mission.
(Reporting by Joey Roulette in Washington D.C. and Akash Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Arun Koyyur)