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Intuitive Machines’ “Odysseus” makes historic moon landing

Odysseus's mission is expected to last 14 Earth days, after which the harsh lunar night is anticipated to halt its operations.

Intuitive Machines Odysseus

American aerospace company Intuitive Machines on Thursday successfully landed its Nova-C lander, named “Odysseus,” on the lunar surface. This marks the first American touchdown on the moon since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

“Odysseus has a new home,” Intuitive Machines wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “After troubleshooting communications, flight controllers have confirmed Odysseus is upright and starting to send data,” it said in another post.

Launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, Odysseus’s journey culminated in a precision landing near the moon’s south pole, an area rich in scientific interest due to the presence of water ice in permanently shadowed craters. This mission’s success paves the way for future lunar exploration and the potential establishment of a sustained human presence on the moon, aligning with NASA’s Artemis program objectives.

The Nova-C lander, described as a hexagonal cylinder on six legs, carried numerous science and research payloads under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. These instruments are designed to collect vital data on the lunar surface, aiding in the preparation for the Artemis program’s anticipated human missions to the moon slated for 2025.

Among the technological marvels aboard Odysseus is a laser retroreflector array for precision landing assistance and a radio navigation beacon to provide geolocation data, crucial for future landers, rovers, and astronauts. Odysseus’s mission is expected to last 14 Earth days, after which the harsh lunar night is anticipated to halt its operations.

Founded in 2013 by Stephen Altemus, Kam Ghaffarian, and Tim Crain, Intuitive Machines’ Odysseus’s mission signifies a new chapter in lunar exploration. Odysseus is the first successful privately owned spacecraft to land on the moon, representing not only a monumental milestone for the Houston-based company but also a significant leap forward in the commercialization of space exploration and lunar research.

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