Astrobotic Peregrine Moon Lander Loses Communication and Meets Its End

Astrobotic Peregrine Moon Lander

Astrobotic Peregrine moon lander has encountered a decisive setback, losing contact and likely meeting its demise over the South Pacific on Thursday afternoon (Jan. 18), as anticipated. The troubled lunar probe, which experienced difficulties since its launch, has reached the end of its mission.

Astrobotic Peregrine Moon Lander Communication Loss and Predicted Conclusion

Astrobotic officially reported the loss of communication with Peregrine at approximately 3:50 p.m. EST (2050 GMT) on Thursday afternoon (Jan. 18) through its announcement on X (formerly known as Twitter). The company stated, “While this indicates the vehicle completed its controlled re-entry over open water in the South Pacific at 4:04 p.m. EST, we await independent confirmation from government entities.” This update was posted on the social media platform around 8 p.m. EST on Thursday (0100 GMT on Friday, Jan. 19).

Launch and Anomaly

Peregrine was launched on January 8, marking the inaugural flight of United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan Centaur rocket. Although the rocket performed admirably, Peregrine encountered a serious anomaly shortly after deploying from the rocket’s upper stage. The issue, identified as a fuel leak, possibly caused by a stuck valve, led to the rupture of an oxidizer tank. A more detailed diagnosis may be provided during an upcoming news conference on Friday.

Mission Cut Short

The fuel leak thwarted Peregrine’s historic mission to land on the moon, which, if successful, would have been the first private spacecraft to achieve this milestone. Despite the setback, the probe remained operational, powering all 10 active payloads and functioning in space for over 10 days. Among the payloads were 10 passive ones, including memorial capsules provided by Celestis and Elysium Space containing human remains. Additionally, Peregrine carried five NASA science instruments through the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program (CLPS).

Future Endeavors

While Peregrine’s mission was the inaugural CLPS effort to depart Earth, another mission is on the horizon. The Nova-C lander, developed by Houston-based Intuitive Machines, is scheduled to launch towards the moon atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket next month.

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