The Peregrine lunar lander from the failed US private mission is headed back toward Earth and is expected to burn up in Earth's atmosphere. “Our latest estimate shows that the spacecraft is now on its way to Earth, where it will burn up in Earth's atmosphere,” the Astrobotic Mission said on Saturday via texting service X, earlier on Twitter.
“As a reminder, a soft landing on the moon is not possible,” the Pittsburgh-based company added.
Peregrine was launched by a rocket last Monday from the Cape Canaveral space station in Florida, USA. After separation from the rocket, there was an explosion and the lunar module started leaking fuel.
It soon became clear that a soft moon landing would not be successful. However, experts speculated that it could be considered a crash on the astrobotic moon. Despite the loss of fuel, science experiments were carried out aboard the Peregrine, including by the US space agency NASA, and flight data was collected.
The original plan was for Peregrine to come close to the moon and circle the sky for several weeks, then touch down on February 23. Astrobotic wanted to become the first private company to successfully land on an Earth satellite. NASA paid the company more than a hundred million dollars (about 91 million euros).
Landing on the moon was a big challenge; Half the attempts fail. So far, only the United States, the Soviet Union, China and India have succeeded in landing on the moon.