1. The Failed Mission of the Peregrine Lunar Lander
The mission of the Peregrine lunar lander, launched by Astrobotic atop a Vulcan rocket, came to an abrupt end when a fuel leak prevented it from completing its journey to the moon. The spacecraft had a ruptured oxidiser tank, causing it to lose too much fuel to reach the lunar surface.
2. Activities in Space
During its time in space, Peregrine’s orientation was corrected, its batteries were charged up, and engineers were able to briefly test-fire the main engine and turn on its onboard rover. They also made measurements of radiation in interplanetary space and remotely switched on some of its scientific instruments.
3. Decision to Bring It Back to Earth
Although Peregrine could have potentially survived a bit longer in orbit around Earth, the decision was made to bring it back to Earth to avoid the risk of it becoming space junk that could damage active satellites. Ultimately, the safety of other spacecraft and the risk involved in leaving it in orbit were the determining factors.
4. Safety of Bringing It Back to Earth
Steering the spacecraft back to Earth was deemed safer than leaving it in orbit, as satellites are regularly de-orbited and burn up during re-entry. Peregrine was carefully aimed towards the Pacific Ocean to minimize any risk of surviving fragments hitting populated areas.
5. Controversial Payloads
In addition to its scientific instruments, Peregrine carried two canisters of cremated human remains sent to space by a company called Celestis. These remains included those of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and actors James Doohan and Nichelle Nichols, and it is unclear whether the capsules survived the trip through Earth’s atmosphere.
6. Challenges of Lunar Missions
The failure of the Peregrine mission is part of a trend, with three missions within the last year failing to reach the moon. This is partially due to the difficulty of sending probes into space and landing them softly on the lunar surface. However, the increase in lunar missions and the use of new and untested equipment and protocols also contribute to these failures.
The failure of the Peregrine lunar lander to reach the moon highlights the challenges and risks involved in space exploration. Despite the setback, Astrobotic and other companies are already planning new lunar missions, demonstrating their determination to overcome these challenges and continue exploring the moon. The lessons learned from this experience will contribute to the development of more reliable and successful lunar missions in the future.
In conclusion, the Peregrine moon lander was burned up in Earth’s atmosphere due to a combination of factors, including its high re-entry speed, lack of a heat shield, and the unexpected aerodynamic forces it encountered. Although the mission was unsuccessful, the valuable data and lessons learned from this incident will undoubtedly contribute to the future development of more resilient and successful space vehicles. As we continue to explore and expand our presence in space, it is crucial to learn from the failures and setbacks in order to improve and ensure the safety and success of future missions.