Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

‘Odysseus’ touches down on lunar surface

By 37ci3 Feb22,2024



A robotic spacecraft made history Thursday by becoming the first private craft to land on the moon’s surface, as well as the first American craft to accomplish the feat in more than 50 years.

The lander, built by Intuitive Machines, touched down on the lunar surface around 6:23 p.m. ET, using onboard laser instruments to clear the final stage of the malfunction. The probe is now the first American spacecraft on the Moon since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lander, nicknamed Odysseus, was launched into space on February 15 On top of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The 14-foot-tall lander then traveled more than 620,000 miles in six days to reach the Moon.

The landing time was adjusted several times Thursday as Intuitive Machines adjusted the spacecraft’s orbit around the moon.

On its way down to the lunar surface, Odyssey targeted a landing site near the crater Malapert A near the lunar south pole. The south polar region of the Moon has long been attractive to scientists because water ice is thought to be relatively abundant in the permanently shadowed craters of the region.

Odysseus carries a mix of commercial cargo and NASA scientific instruments on its journey. The lander is expected to spend about a week collecting data on the Moon before lunar night begins and the probe loses power.

About an hour before landing, the company tried to fix a problem with laser instruments designed to help the spacecraft assess the lunar terrain and find a safe and secure place to land. The laser range finders aboard Odysseus were inoperable, but sensors on one of NASA’s science instruments aboard the lander were substituted.

The mission is part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, established by the space agency to support the development of lunar landers by private sector companies. NASA plans to eventually hire these companies to carry cargo and scientific instruments to the lunar surface as part of the agency’s broader ambitions to return astronauts to the moon.

NASA awarded Intuitive Machines $118 million to land on the moon.

Last month, a separate company attempted to send a lunar lander under the same NASA program, but failed. Built by Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic Technology, the spacecraft suffered damage damaged fault shortly after start-up that forcing the company to cancel the entire mission.

In addition to being the first commercial spacecraft to land on the moon, Odyssey also joins an elite club: Only the space agencies of the United States, the former Soviet Union, China, India and Japan have successfully performed a controlled or “soft” landing. month



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