“Welcome to the Moon”: Odysseus lander made a successful landing

Intuitive Machines has reported that it has successfully landed the Odysseus spacecraft on the surface of the Moon. It happened Thursday at 6:23 p.m. ET. The spacecraft landed near the crater Malapert A, located at the South Pole of the Moon. Thus, Intuitive Machines became the first private company that successfully made a soft landing on our natural satellite. The mission, called IM-1, delivered 12 payloads to the surface of the Moon.

Odysseus took a photo of the far side of the Moon after entering lunar orbit on February 21, 2024. Photo: Intuitive Machines

Initially, the landing was scheduled for 4:24 p.m., but the controllers decided to make an additional orbit around the Moon before landing to eliminate the problem with the on-board laser instrument. The laser is used to assess the terrain of the surface. Therefore, the operators have repurposed another instrument to help with landing. At first, the situation looked tense, but after additional security measures, Odysseus successfully touched the Moon. Intuitive Machines CEO, Steve Altemus, stated during the live broadcast: “I know this was a nail-biter. But we are on the surface, and we are transmitting. Welcome to the Moon.”

The Odysseus spacecraft launched on February 15 using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. It is part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative. This initiative aims to ensure a constant flow of landers to deliver government and commercial cargo to the moon.

Odysseus carried six instruments to study the impact of landers on the lunar surface and the interaction of space weather with it. Among the instruments: a radio astronomy tool, precision landing technologies and a communications and navigation node for future tests of autonomous navigation. 

Also on board was a camera system developed by students of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which was supposed to separate before landing to record the moment of descent. Additionally, there is a 1.3-kilogram dual-camera system called ILO-X, which aims to collect images of the Milky Way from the Moon in different ranges.

Odysseus will be operating for about a week before the Sun sets on the south polar region of the Moon.

Thanks to the successful landing, Intuitive Machines is the first private company to take this important step. Compared to other failures, for example, those that occurred with Astrobotic and the Japanese Hakuto-R spacecraft, this achievement can be noted as a further breakthrough in the development of the space economy.

Earlier, we reported on how the probe photographed the Earth.

According to gizmodo.com

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