Failed moon lander backed by NASA hurtling back towards Earth

by WorldTribune Staff, January 15, 2024

What was to be the first American made spacecraft to land on the Moon in more than 50 years is now hurtling back towards Earth after its mission failed.

Peregrine is a small-class lunar lander. It was poised to carry out one of the first commercial missions to the Moon, and be among the first American spacecraft to land on the Moon since the Apollo program. / Astrobotic

The NASA-backed Peregrine One moon lander, built by private U.S. space company Astrobotic, blasted into space on Jan. 8 aboard a brand new rocket, United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Vulcan Centaur.

Despite a smooth take off, the Peregrine spacecraft quickly hit a technical glitch. Shortly after it separated from the rocket, the spaceship experienced a fault that meant it shed “critical” amounts of fuel.

Technicians said the planned touch down on the Moon would not be able to happen and the mission was aborted soon after.

Astrobotic predicts the spacecraft will likely burn up in the atmosphere in the next few days, the BBC reported on Jan. 15.

Experts had been working with NASA and other space companies to find the most safe and responsible way of ending Peregrine’s mission.

“The team is currently assessing options and we will update as soon as we are able,” the company noted in a social media post.

In November of 2024, NASA had planned to return astronauts to lunar orbit through the Artemis II mission, but those ambitious dreams have been postponed.

NASA officials announced earlier this month that Artemis II won’t launch until at least September of 2025, and cited ongoing tests of equipment necessary to ensure astronaut safety as the cause.

As a result of this delay, the subsequent Artemis III Moon-landing mission has been delayed until 2026.

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