Astrobotic says it has lost contact with its Peregrine lunar lander over open water in the South Pacific Ocean after anticipating that it would “burn up” while re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.
The announcement brings an end to a troubled moon landing mission that began on Jan. 8 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The Pittsburgh company hoped its Peregrine lander would become the first American spacecraft to touch down on the moon in more than 50 years, but it had to scrap those plans after the lander suffered issues with its propulsion system following launch.
“As expected, Astrobotic lost telemetry with the Peregrine spacecraft around 3:50 p.m. ET,” the company said Thursday. “While this indicates the vehicle completed its controlled re-entry over open water in the South Pacific at 4:04 p.m., we await independent confirmation from government entities.”
Astrobotic said earlier this week that it was working with NASA and U.S. government agencies “to assess the final trajectory path in which the vehicle is expected to burn up” and that its mission team carried out procedures to “minimize the risk of debris reaching land.”
‘NO CHANCE’ OF SOFT LUNAR LANDING FOR US MISSION AFTER CRITICAL FAILURE
“I am so proud of what our team has accomplished with this mission. It is a great honor to witness firsthand the heroic efforts of our mission control team overcoming enormous challenges to recover and operate the spacecraft after Monday’s propulsion anomaly,” Astrobotic CEO John Thornton said last weekend.
“This mission has already taught us so much and has given me great confidence that our next mission to the Moon will achieve a soft landing,” he added.
SPACEX LAUNCHES SATELLITES FOR CELL SERVICE FOR FIRST TIME
Prior to running into difficulties, Astrobotic said its Peregrine craft would attempt a landing on the moon on Feb. 23.
However, it then announced a day after the launch that “given the propellant leak, there is, unfortunately, no chance of a soft landing on the moon.”
The last U.S. mission to the moon was Apollo 17 in 1972.
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