American Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander is on its way back to Earth, after collecting important data despite encountering challenges during its journey. The lander was sent to the Moon on January 8 and has faced issues such as a fuel leak. However, it managed to take pictures and run scientific equipment, marking the first time in over fifty years that a lander was sent from the United States to the Moon. The company has reported that the lander is likely to be destroyed in the Earth’s atmosphere, and is still trying to find options to bring it to Earth.
The Peregrine lander was scheduled to land on the Moon at the end of February, but the company is now estimating that it will not survive its return journey. The cargo carried by the lander has caused controversy, as it includes the ashes of people and animals, DNA, and other items that have raised concerns among the Navajo people, an indigenous population of North America. Meanwhile, NASA paid Astrobotic a significant sum for the technology to be transported with the lander, as part of an experimental program involving private operators to get to the moon.
In addition, the company is facing criticism for the cargo it carries, as well as the potential environmental impact of the lander’s destruction in the Earth’s atmosphere. With the next lander scheduled to be sent to the Moon in cooperation with NASA, the private space exploration industry continues to face challenges and controversy.