Peregrine One Moon mission comes to fiery end over the Pacific
America's first attempt to land on the Moon in 52 years came to a fiery end today as the privately owned and operated Peregrine 1 spacecraft entered the Earth's atmosphere and burned up at 3:59 pm EST somewhere over the South Pacific.
The end of Peregrine Mission One was confirmed on Twitter by the Canberra station of NASA's Deep Space Network, which had been tracking the spacecraft and acting as a telemetry relay for Astrobotic Systems, owner of the vehicle. The station had been monitoring the Doppler signal from Peregrine when it suddenly ceased transmission.
Peregrine Mission One was intended to mark a matched pair of historical events. It was supposed to be the first US mission to land on the Moon since Apollo 17 in 1972 and the first private Moon landing in history. What began as a textbook perfect liftoff turned almost immediately to frustrated disappointment as a faulty valve leaked liquid oxygen from the propulsion system, rupturing a propellant tank.
Deep Space Station 36 #DSS36 was providing communications and tracking for @Astrobotic's #Peregrine Mission (#APM1), as it made its final approach and re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.📡— CanberraDSN 📡 (@CanberraDSN) January 18, 2024
It's never easy to see a mission end, but we look forward to an #APM2 in the future.🚀🌖 pic.twitter.com/5UpIQKq7PL
This loss of propellant was so large that it soon became evident that the Moon landing was no longer possible and the thrust from the outgassing was pushing Peregrine off course and hampering its ability to keep its vital solar panel pointed at the Sun to provide power. Mission Control was able to stabilize the craft and the venting eventually ceased.
Despite this problem, all of the other systems aboard Peregrine and the payload of experiments it carried powered up and functioned as expected. Astrobotic hoped to salvage something of the mission by putting it into an alternative orbit. However, in consultation with NASA, the company decided to allow Peregrine to continue on its collision course and burn up in the atmosphere rather than allow it to become a hazard to navigation.