It looks like the final resting place of the Peregrine lunar lander will be back home where it started. The ill-fated spacecraft, which experienced an anomaly shortly after launch and has since leaked propellant, is expected to burn up in Earth's atmosphere. Astrobotic he wrote in an update on X this weekend. The company plans to host a press conference with NASA on Thursday, January 18 at 12 noon ET to discuss the fate of the lander.
Peregrine has been on hold so far for much longer than anyone expected after the leak was first discovered on January 8, and Astrobotic has been posting status updates around the clock. The company has ruled out a soft landing on the moon for days, but there has been some uncertainty about the exact place it will end up. Peregrine succeeded in reaching the lunar distance 238,000 miles from Earth on Friday and then 242,000 as of Saturday – but because of where the Moon is currently in its orbit, there was nothing to meet it.
If all had gone according to plan, Peregrine would have encountered the Moon about 15 days after launch, at which point the transition from Earth orbit to lunar orbit could have begun. Only six days have passed, and Peregrine's dwindling fuel supplies are unlikely to last another nine days. “Our analytical efforts have been difficult due to a propellant leak, which has added uncertainty to predictions of the vehicle’s trajectory,” Astrobotic wrote in its latest update on Saturday. “Our latest assessment now shows that the spacecraft is on its way toward Earth, where it will likely burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.”
There was always a known risk that Peregrine Mission One would end this way; It is known that landing on the moon is very difficult. This commercial mission was the first of its kind contracted under NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, and in a pre-launch press conference last week, Chris Colbert, NASA's CLPS program manager, said: “We realize that success cannot be guaranteed.” “.
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