Doomed Peregrine sent a selfie on the way to the Moon

The long-awaited Peregrine mission was supposed to be in the record books. But Astrobotic’s attempt to carry out a controlled landing of the first private lander on the Moon ended in failure. After entering Earth’s orbit, the spacecraft was found to have a fuel leak. This happened after the Peregrine was disconnected from the upper stage of the rocket. Astrobotic has already found the potential “culprit” in the mission failure — a non-working valve, due to which the pressure in the oxidizer tank rose above the operating limit and subsequently ruptured it.

A selfie from the Peregrine spacecraft. The “sickle” of the Earth is visible at the top right. Photo: Astrobotic

Astrobotic shared photos from the Peregrine on social media. A curved fragment was seen on one of them. But, as it turns out, this is part of the illuminated side of the Earth.

“Our flight dynamics team has confirmed that the curved fragment in this image taken on the first day of flight is actually Earth!” the Astrobotic team wrote in a follow-up post on Wednesday. An image from a spacecraft simulator was added to it, showing the Earth from the camera at the moment when the picture was taken.

Perhaps it will be more interesting for someone that the image also shows a blue can of the popular Japanese soft drink Pocari Sweat. This aluminum can is actually a “time capsule” of the Pocari Sweat Lunar Dream Time Capsule from the Singapore company Astroscale. This is the first payload designed for the Peregrine mission, and it contains 185,872 messages from children from all over the world.

In one of the selfies of Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander, the wheels of the IRIS lunar rover are noticeable. Authorship: Astrobotic

Despite the failure, the Pittsburgh-based team remains optimistic about the Peregrine mission. The team is now learning all possible lessons in preparation for the next moon landing, which it will attempt in November 2024 as part of the Griffin Lander mission. 

The Peregrine lander launched from the Kennedy Space Center aboard an ULA rocket on January 8. But a few hours after its six-week journey to the surface of the Moon, Astrobotic reported that a fuel leak had occurred in the spacecraft. After a while, it was confirmed that Peregrine and its 20 payloads for government and commercial customers had no chance of reaching the Moon.

On January 11, Peregrine was at a distance of about 300 thousand kilometers from Earth, Astrobotic reported. The company also added that the spacecraft remained stable, fully operational and continued to collect valuable data. Astrobotic reported that the spacecraft had 35 hours of fuel left. When the spacecraft runs out of fuel, it will no longer be able to stabilize and direct its solar panels at the Sun, which will deprive it of energy.

Peregrine’s initial flight plan to the Moon

Earlier, we reported on how Astrobotic was supposed to deliver a flag and a map of Ukraine to the Moon.

According to Space

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