Washington, D.C. – January 20, 2024
In a turn of events, NASA officially announced the conclusion of the maiden voyage of Astrobotic Technology’s lunar lander, Peregrine, as it concluded its 10-day and 13-hour journey in space. The mission, intended to mark the first U.S. commercial lunar landing, encountered a setback, preventing it from achieving its ambitious goal.
Launched on January 8, 2024, Peregrine, developed by the private U.S. company Astrobotic Technology, carried an array of scientific payloads and advanced solar arrays. The spacecraft, a key player in the “Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS)” initiative of NASA, aimed to contribute to the agency’s Artemis campaign, advancing lunar science, exploration, and commercial development.
Despite a successful launch and separation from the rocket, the mission faced a propulsion issue that impeded Peregrine’s soft landing on the moon. After careful analysis and consultations with NASA and the broader space community, Astrobotic Technology decided on a controlled re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, which took place over open water in the South Pacific at approximately 4:04 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson acknowledged the challenges of space exploration, emphasizing the importance of the data collected from Astrobotic’s lunar lander. He highlighted that the insights gained would better prepare NASA for future CLPS deliveries and crewed missions under the Artemis program.
Astrobotic Technology’s Peregrine was the pioneering mission under the CLPS initiative, with seven additional lunar deliveries contracted to various American companies. The setback encountered by Peregrine, while disappointing, serves as a valuable learning experience for upcoming lunar endeavors.
The next CLPS commercial flight is slated for no earlier than February, showcasing NASA’s commitment to advancing lunar exploration through collaborations with private entities.
Originally designed to mark the first instance of an American company landing a spacecraft on the moon, as well as the United States’ return to lunar exploration after more than five decades, Peregrine’s mission highlights the inherent risks and challenges associated with space exploration. In NASA’s ongoing quest for lunar exploration objectives, the insights gained from this mission are composed to undeniably enhance the achievements of forthcoming ventures extending beyond Earth’s orbit.