It looks like the problematic Peregrine moon lander is finally done.
On Thursday afternoon, January 18, at approximately 3:50 p.m. EST (2050 GMT), Astrobotic lost contact with Peregrine, the Pittsburgh-based business revealed via X (previously known as Twitter).
The company updated the social media site at approximately 8 p.m. EST on Thursday (0100 GMT on Friday, Jan. 19). “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,” the company wrote.
On the inaugural launch of United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan Centaur rocket, Peregrine was launched on January 8. While Vulcan Centaur performed admirably, Peregrine experienced a major anomaly soon after it was launched from the rocket’s upper stage.
That issue was a fuel leak, which according to Astrobotic might have been brought on by a blocked valve, which in turn prompted an oxidizer tank burst. This is just a preliminary diagnosis; during Friday’s press conference, we might receive a more definitive one.
Peregrine’s historic chance to get to the moon was destroyed by the leak; no private spacecraft has ever made a successful landing on the moon. However, the probe continued to work, running in the last frontier for over ten days while powering on all ten of its payloads that needed electricity. (Peregrine also carried ten other passive payloads, such as memorial capsules containing human remains that were supplied by Celestis and Elysium Space.)
NASA science equipment, five of which were carried on board Peregrine through the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program.
While Peregrine was the first CLPS mission to orbit the Earth, another is ready to take off: next month, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the lander Nova-C, developed by Intuitive Machines in Houston, will blast off toward the moon.