Lunar Flashlight mission is having engine problems

(ORDO NEWS) — NASA‘s Lunar Flashlight mission successfully launched on December 11, 2022 and began its four-month journey to the Moon.

There, the small satellite will test several new technologies to search for hidden surface ice at the Moon’s South Pole.

The spacecraft is mostly operational and is in communication with the NASA Deep Space Network.

However, the mission operations team found that three of its four engines were not operating efficiently enough.

Engineers first noticed the drop in thrust three days after launch. Now they are working to analyze the problem and find possible solutions.

During the flight, the Lunar Flashlight propulsion system operated in a mode of short-term pulses lasting up to a couple of seconds at a time.

The team believes that the lack of performance could be caused by obstructions in the fuel lines that could restrict the flow of fuel to the engines.

The team plans to extend the life of the engines, hoping to remove any potential blockages in the fuel line.

Trajectory correction maneuvers will also be performed at the same time, which will allow the mission to stay on course to achieve the desired orbit.

In the event that the performance of the propulsion system is not restored, the mission team will maneuver taking into account the current reduced thrust.

Lunar Flashlight will need to perform daily trajectory correction maneuvers from early February to reach the Moon’s orbit in about four months.

Other systems on the Lunar Flashlight work well, including the Sphinx trip computer and an upgraded Iris radio.

Additional systems, such as a laser reflectometer, will be tested in the coming weeks before the mission enters lunar orbit.

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