The ill-fated Peregrine lunar lander burns up in Earth’s atmosphere

The ill-fated Peregrine lunar lander burns up in Earth’s atmosphere

After remaining in space for more than a week, the ill-fated lander met a fiery end on Thursday, burning up in Earth’s atmosphere to end its mission.

The specially built spacecraft, named Peregrine, is designed for flight to the Moon and settling on the lunar surface. But shortly after being launched into orbit on January 8, the lander suffered a serious propellant leak, forcing its operators to abort the entire mission.

Astrobotic Technology, a Pittsburgh-based company that developed the lander, said Thursday that the tumbled spacecraft burned up safely in Earth’s atmosphere around 4:04 p.m. ET over a remote area in the South Pacific Ocean.

In an update posted on

An early malfunction left the Peregrine lander with no way to reach the Moon. The Astrobotic team spent nine days fighting to salvage the spacecraft and its onboard instruments and to extend the remainder of the mission.

Although engineers were able to stabilize the spacecraft, Astrobotic said last week that it was not possible to attempt a controlled landing on the moon.

“We applaud Astrobotic for their perseverance,” NASA said Tuesday in a statement posted on X.

The Peregrine mission was closely watched because it was the first American lander on the moon in more than 50 years. If successful, Peregrine would also have been the first commercially developed spacecraft to land on the moon.

In addition to NASA, only the former Soviet Union, China and India have succeeded in carrying out controlled or “soft” landings on the moon’s surface. Japan is looking to join that elite club by attempting to land a Smart Lunar Investigation Lander, or SLIM, on Friday.

The Peregrine mission was part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, which was set up to stimulate the development of new lunar landers by private companies that NASA could eventually charter to transport cargo and scientific instruments to the lunar surface.

A separate, Houston-based company, called Intuitive Machines, is expected to launch its own lander, developed commercially as part of the same NASA initiative, to the moon next month.

The Commercial Lunar Payload Services program is part of the agency’s Artemis program, which aims to return astronauts to the Moon within the next few years, with the goal of eventually launching regular flights to the Moon and building a lunar base camp. NASA recently announced the postponement of two of its upcoming Artemis missions, pushing back a flyby of the moon that was scheduled to launch later this year to 2025, and postponing the first Artemis landing attempt to the following year.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *