Bitcoin To the Moon or Lost in Space? Moon Mission in Peril

By Jody McDonald January 10, 2024 In Bitcoin
  • A space mission launched on Monday morning to get a physical Bitcoin to the moon experienced propulsion problems hours after takeoff.
  • The company behind the launch now says there is no chance the craft will safely land on the lunar surface.
  • Despite the failure, mission partner BitMEX says it is still a powerful symbol for crypto.

Satoshi, we have a problem!

The mission to fly a physical Bitcoin to Earth’s actual moon has hit something of a setback in the form of a “failure within the propulsion system” — spaceman talk for a fuel leak. 

The craft carrying the Bitcoin, Peregrine 1, launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida early on Monday morning, but problems appeared just hours after takeoff. 

Recent updates from Astrobotic, the company behind the launch, have since made it clear that the physical Bitcoin will not be touching the lunar surface. 

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Given the propellant leak, there is, unfortunately, no chance of a soft landing on the Moon.

Astrobic

Bitcoin To The Moon! 

The mission to get a Bitcoin to the moon was a partnership between the crypto exchange BitMEX, robotics company Astrobotic Technology, Bitcoin Magazine and the decentralised creative co-operative Oxcart Assembly. The mission also formed part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program in which the space agency works with commercial partners to launch missions to the moon.

Aboard Peregrine 1 was a 43-gram physical coin engraved with a private key that could be used to unlock one Bitcoin (currently valued at USD $46,130/ AUD $68,590). 

The craft also contained 19 other payloads, including scientific experiments such as NASA’s Neutron Spectrometer System (NSS), which are now rendered useless following the propulsion system malfunction. 

NASA paid Astrobotic USD $79.5 million (AUD $118.2 million) to launch its five scientific payloads, worth an estimated USD $108 million (AUD $160 million) to the lunar surface.

What Went Wrong? Wen Moon?

In a series of X posts following launch, Astrobotic made it clear that the propulsion system problem has rendered a safe landing on the lunar surface impossible. This means for Peregrine 1 the answer to that old crypto staple ‘wen moon?’, is sadly now a definitive ‘never’.

Astrobotic explained that their current working theory is that a faulty valve was responsible for the fuel leak which eventually led to a rupture of Peregrine 1’s fuel tank. Astrobotic also said that further investigations, including a full analysis report, will be conducted after the mission is complete using all available data downloaded from the craft’s systems.

Mission Still Symbolically Powerful, Says BitMEX

BitMEX, the crypto exchange involved in this mission, had planned a trading competition to run until Peregrine 1’s touchdown on the lunar surface, which was scheduled for February 23 — for now the competition is continuing despite the failure of the mission.

Speaking to Blockworks about the mission’s failure BitMEX said they had no plans to attempt to retrieve the physical Bitcoin, and maintained the failed mission was still powerful symbolically:

Bitcoin to the Moon mission serves as a powerful reminder that crypto is not only here to stay for future generations, but more significantly, highlights the remarkable progress in terms of technological advancement.

Bitmex Representative

Jody McDonald
Author

Jody McDonald

Jody is a Brisbane-based freelance writer who specialises in writing about business, technology, and the future of work.

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