Doomed Lunar Lander Meets Its End

Astrobotic's Peregrine burns up reentering Earth's atmosphere, along with human remains
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 18, 2024 9:55 AM CST
Updated Jan 19, 2024 12:30 AM CST
Moon Lander—and Its Human Remains—to Burn
This photo shows the Peregrine lunar lander at the company's facility in Pittsburgh in October.   (Jordan K Reynolds/Astrobotic Technology via AP)
UPDATE Jan 19, 2024 12:30 AM CST

The doomed Peregrine moon lander burned up in Earth's atmosphere over a remote stretch of the South Pacific on Thursday, as planned after the spacecraft suffered a malfunction that left it unable to reach the moon. "We commend @Astrobotic for their perseverance," NASA said in a statement. The mission was part of a NASA program meant to help private sector companies develop new moon landers; next month, a separate company that developed its own lander as part of the initiative has a lunar launch planned, NBC News reports.

Jan 18, 2024 9:55 AM CST

Astrobotic Technology's Peregrine spacecraft will meet its end Thursday when it tumbles into Earth's atmosphere, where it's expected to burn up, along with the DNA and remains of more than 70 people on board. Following its Jan. 8 launch, the spacecraft suffered a critical propellant leak, traced to a ruptured oxidizer tank, that meant a soft landing on the moon next month was impossible, per Though Peregrine reached the moon's neighborhood, Astrobotic, which had hoped to achieve the first lunar landing by a private company, ultimately "decided to dispose of the craft, rather than let it wander aimlessly through space, posing a collision hazard," the BBC reports.

Astrobotic said Wednesday that the operational spacecraft was set for "a safe, controlled reentry to Earth over a remote area of the South Pacific" around 4pm ET. Operators performed 23 small burns of the main engines to put the craft on a safe trajectory and "to minimize the risk of debris reaching land," the company said. The spacecraft carries five NASA instruments, in addition to the DNA and remains of people held in capsules that were to be left on the moon's surface as part of memorials offered by Celestis. Loved ones paid at least $12,995 for the remains to travel on Peregrine, reports the Washington Post. Some took to social media Thursday to grieve the loss of the remains. (More moon lander stories.)

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