Ibadan, 16 Janaury 2024. – In light of the Peregrine spacecraft’s propellant leak and subsequent 32 hours of life before running out of propellant, Astrobotic has decided that the safest and most responsible course of action is to end the Peregrine mission. Noting that the final decision of Peregrine’s final flight path is in the Company’s hands as it is a commercial mission, Astrobotic will act upon the recommendation to let the spacecraft burn up during re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. As a result, the Company will maintain the current spacecraft’s trajectory to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere to preserve the future of cislunar space.
Despite the propulsion system issue, the Astrobotic Mission Team stabilized the vehicle, turning on all active payloads, consequently enabling the collection of payload data. The mission team also achieved a 200-millisecond burn and acquired data that indicated Peregrine could have main engine propulsive capability. However, due to the anomaly, the fuel to oxidizer ratio is beyond the normal operating range of the main engines making long controlled burns impossible. As a result, the team projects that the spacecraft has enough remaining propellant to maintain sun pointing and perform small maneuvers.
Speaking on the mission, Astrobotic CEO John Thornton, said, “I am so proud of what our team has accomplished with this mission. It is a great honor to witness firsthand the heroic efforts of our mission control team overcoming enormous challenges to recover and operate the spacecraft after Monday’s propulsion anomaly. I look forward to sharing these, and more remarkable stories, after the mission concludes on January 18. This mission has already taught us so much and has given me great confidence that our next mission to the Moon will achieve a soft landing”