American lunar spacecraft is heading towards Earth

Washington (AFP) – A privately owned American lunar lander that lost fuel during its journey is now headed toward Earth and will likely burn up in the atmosphere, the company said Saturday.

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Astrobotic has been providing regular updates on the status of the Peregrine lander since the start of its ill-fated journey, which began when it lifted off on a new Vulcan rocket built by United Launch Alliance on January 8.

Shortly after separation from the rocket, an explosion occurred on board the spacecraft, and it soon became clear that it would not be able to achieve a soft landing on the Moon due to the large amount of wasted fuel, although the Astrobotic team was able to power the spacecraft. scientific experiments she performed for NASA and other space agencies, and collected data on space missions.

“Our latest assessment now shows that the spacecraft is on its way to Earth, where it will likely burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere,” the Pittsburgh-based company reported on X.

The box-shaped robot has been in space for more than five days and is currently 390,000 kilometers away from our planet, Astrobotic added.

Astrobotic is the latest private organization to fail a soft landing, following an Israeli nonprofit and a Japanese company.

NASA paid Astrobotic more than $100 million to transport its payload under an experimental program called Commercial Lunar Payload Services. The overall goal is to create a commercial lunar economy and reduce its own overhead costs.

Astrobotic itself will have another opportunity in November with its Griffin lander, which will take NASA explorer VIPER to the lunar south pole.

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