Doomed $108M Peregrine One lunar lander carrying JFK’s remains destroyed in fiery re-entry to Earth over Pacific Ocean

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Written By Daily Mail

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America’s failed private lunar lander ended its mission with a fiery re-entry to Earth on Thursday, following its failed flight to the Moon.

Today, the private NASA contractor behind the project announced plans to create an “Anomaly Review Board” to investigate what exactly had led to the explosive rupture that drained fuel from the spacecraft and sent it off course.

Peregrine One was scheduled to land on the lunar surface, but experienced a fuel leak in space last week, forcing the ground team to bring the craft back home.

Just before 4 pm EST (9 pm GMT) on Thursday, Peregrine burned up in the atmosphere somewhere over the South Pacific Ocean, about 400 miles south of Fiji.

NASA contractor Astrobotic, which developed the lander, shared its final updates on Friday afternoon, along with a stunning video of Peregrine embarking on its mission, which launched on January 8.

A thermal imaging camera also captured the craft Thursday in another clip, which documented the thwarted lunar rover’s final moments as the team redirected Peregrine’s thrusters in hopes of steering the spacecraft away from human habitation.

The doomed private lunar lander Peregrine One crashed to Earth yesterday and burned up over Australia, but not before taking one last indelible image.  The company also posted a stunning video of 'spaceship Earth' taken shortly after the probe's launch on January 8 (above).

The doomed private lunar lander Peregrine One crashed to Earth yesterday and burned up over Australia, but not before taking one last indelible image. The company also posted a stunning video of ‘spaceship Earth’ taken shortly after the probe’s launch on January 8 (above).

The eerie final image of Peregrine's re-entry (above) shows an eclipsed 'Crescent Earth' glowing in the vacuum of space.  Published on X by the maker of the Peregrine probe, NASA contractor Astrobotic.

The eerie final image of Peregrine’s re-entry (above) shows an eclipsed ‘Crescent Earth’ glowing in the vacuum of space. Published on X by the maker of the Peregrine probe, NASA contractor Astrobotic.

While hope for America’s return to the moon has temporarily faded, Astrobotic CEO John Thornton expressed high hopes for its future Griffin lunar lander missions.

“What a wild adventure we had just had,” Thornton said. “It’s certainly not the result we expected and certainly challenged from the beginning.”

Like Peregrine, these robotic lunar landers are expected to serve as scouts for NASA’s Artemis astronauts before they make their own lunar landing in 2026.

The CEO and trained mechanical engineer described “victory” after “victory” as his team struggled to make the most of the scrapped Peregrine mission.

“Along the way, we activated every payload that had power or could use power during the mission,” Thornton told reporters Friday.

‘We received successful signals from all those payloads and we got data from all the payloads that could send data. “We were very happy to see it.”

Thornton noted that the German space agency, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt or DLR, expressed gratitude that its scientific instrumentation payload aboard Peregrine managed to collect much-needed cosmic radiation data.

“The DLR M42 radiation detector functioned perfectly throughout the mission,” Dr. Thomas Berger, head of the DLR Biophysics Group and an expert in radiation biology, said in a statement.

The 1.2-ton lander carried NASA instruments worth $108 million, a hair sample from U.S. President John F. Kennedy and the ashes of 60 other people to be dumped on the lunar surface (in the photo).

The 1.2-ton lander carried NASA instruments worth $108 million, a hair sample from U.S. President John F. Kennedy and the ashes of 60 other people to be dumped on the lunar surface (in the photo).

“We were able to collect over 92 hours of data measuring the ‘free space’ radiation environment… which is extremely valuable to the scientific community and the DLR.”

In a statement released Thursday evening, Astrobotic reported that it had lost reception of the Peregrine spacecraft’s telemetry signal around 3:50 p.m. EST (8:50 p.m. GMT) “as expected.”

“While this indicates that the vehicle completed its controlled re-entry over open water in the South Pacific at 4:04 p.m.,” the company said, “we await independent confirmation from government entities.”

But while Astrobotic waits, it also plans to assemble its own team of industry experts to get to the bottom of what went wrong with the spacecraft in the hours after the rocket launched on January 8.

In a media conference call at 1:00 p.m. EST today, streamed live on NASA’s YouTube channel, Executive Director John Thornton told reporters, “We’re going to look at this closely with an Anomaly Review Board.” .

“Our main theory has not changed at this time,” Thornton said.

“But what appears to have happened is that the valve connecting the helium to the oxidizer did not ‘reset’ properly and sent a burst of helium. [the ‘pressurant’ gas designed to move the liquid fuel] on the oxidant side.’

“And I describe it as a ‘rush,'” he added, “because it was very, very fast.”

The result, Thornton said, echoing previous assessments, was a “catastrophic loss of propellant” that left Peregrine’s lunar landing mission aborted as the team scrambled to redirect the spacecraft and attempt useful backup targets.

EST on Thursday, Peregrine One hit a remote region of the South Pacific Ocean, about 400 miles south of Fiji, as captured by thermal cameras.

This map (above) shows the re-entry area with the orange circle offering a 99 percent degree of certainty about where it impacted.

Around 4:04 pm EST on Thursday, Peregrine One hit a remote region of the South Pacific, about 400 miles south of Fiji, as captured by thermal cameras (left). This map (right) shows the reentry area with the orange circle offering a 99 percent degree of certainty about where it crashed.

Once it became clear that Peregrine One would fail in its goal of landing on the moon, Astrobotic redirected the ship back to Earth to avoid space debris.

In recent days, it has gotten closer and closer to Earth and is now less than 100,000 miles away.

On Wednesday, the Astrobotic team was able to move the spacecraft and change its projected trajectory so that it would impact an uninhabited area of ​​the South Pacific Ocean.

This involved firing the spacecraft’s engines with a series of short burns before adjusting the spacecraft’s altitude so that the force induced by the…

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