Failed moon lander to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere

Astrobotic’s doomed Peregrine lunar lander will likely burn up in Earth’s atmosphere, the private Moon exploration company has confirmed.

Currently, Peregrine is travelling in space between the Moon and Earth, but a propellant leak identified shortly after take-off last Monday put the mission’s objective of landing on the lunar surface out of reach.

Astrobotic has now released a statement projecting the stricken spacecraft’s course will lead it into Earth’s atmosphere, where it will burn up on re-entry.

While a lunar landing has been ruled out by Astrobotic, it has salvaged some scientific outcomes over its week in space. Among these, 4 NASA experiments are currently active and collecting data on the space environment between the Earth and Moon.

NASA is increasingly contracting private companies to ferry its scientific missions to space as part of its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program.

“Measurements and operations of the NASA-provided science instruments on board will provide valuable experience, technical knowledge, and scientific data to future CLPS lunar deliveries,” says Joel Kearns, deputy associate administrator for exploration in NASA’s science directorate..

More on Peregrine One

NASA intended to use the Peregrine flight to test several pieces of scientific equipment before fully-fledged operation in future Moon missions. This includes instruments for Astrobotic’s next scheduled project, Griffin, a larger vehicle that will deliver NASA’s VIPER lunar rover to explore the Moon for traces of ice and other materials.

Among other items in Peregrine’s payload that will be impacted by the Earth re-entry are several commemorative objects and ‘space memorials’ including the DNA of deceased US presidents and Star Trek cast members.

While Peregrine won’t make history as the first private company to land a lunar vehicle, another US rival may be able to accomplish that feat in February.

Houston-based Intuitive Machines is set to launch its IM-1 vehicle in February, also carrying a payload of instruments from NASA and other private space companies.

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