The space community watched in dread and despair last week as the first American lunar lander since Apollo set off toward the moon and ran into difficulties right away. Regretfully, Peregrine soon encountered difficulties when Astrobotic was forced to divert the lander towards Earth due to a propellant leak. Upon re-entering Earth, the lander met certain annihilation as it burned up.
According to some stories, NASA even encouraged the destruction of Astrobotic’s iconic lander, so while it may not have been the most spectacular conclusion to one of 2024’s most awaited space missions, it was definitely for the best.
You see, Astrobotic’s first space mission was called Peregrine. As a result, the business is still constantly learning new things. it is ok. But Astrobotic resorted to NASA when the Peregrine lander was in danger of being destroyed while on mission.
The CEO of Astrobotic, John Thornton, claims that NASA advised returning the lander to Earth so that it could be disposed of properly as it burnt up during re-entry. (via Ars Technica)
Yes, they may have attempted to reach the moon. As it happened, by the time the spaceship rotated, the propellant leak that was the source of all the commotion appeared to have ended.
But turning on the main engines would have been necessary to get Peregrine off its flight course and back to Earth, where it could safely find destruction. And by doing so, it might have exploded completely, dumping debris all over the Moon’s surrounds.
It’s probably not the best idea to launch a ton of trash into space near the Moon while the next Artemis missions are still being planned. NASA advised allowing Peregrine to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere for this reason. It was clear that the mission was unsuccessful. However, it also meant that on their way to the Moon, missions in the future wouldn’t have to dodge junk.