Unleashing Curiosity, Igniting Discovery - The Science Fusion

An image taken by the Odysseus spacecraft whereas in orbit across the moon

Intuitive Machines

Intuitive Machines’ Odysseus lander has touched down on the moon. That is the primary time {that a} personal agency has landed a spacecraft on the lunar floor, a welcome success after a latest string of high-profile touchdown failures by different corporations.

The Odysseus craft launched for this flight, known as the IM-1 mission, atop a Falcon 9 rocket on 14 February. It arrived in lunar orbit on 21 February earlier than touchdown close to the south pole of the moon on 22 February.

The stay feed from mission management was tense, because the deliberate touchdown time slipped by with no communication from the lander. Finally, a number of minutes after Odysseus was presupposed to land, mission director Tim Crain in Intuitive Machines’ mission management mentioned, “We’re choosing up a sign – it’s faint, nevertheless it’s there.”

The sign confirmed that the spacecraft had touched down on the moon, however the state of the craft remains to be unknown. Nonetheless, the touchdown was a hit. “I do know this was a nail-biter however we’re on the floor,” mentioned Intuitive Machines CEO Stephen Altemus. “Welcome to the moon.”

Earlier than this touchdown, three different corporations tried to ship landers to the moon. SpaceIL’s Beresheet craft launched in 2019 and ispace’s Hakuto-R mission launched in 2022, however every of them crash-landed and was wrecked.

Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander didn’t even make it that far after its January launch – a gas leak pressured its operators to return it to Earth to fritter away within the ambiance. With the success of IM-1, Intuitive Machines joins an elite membership – solely the nationwide house companies of the Soviet Union, the US, China, India and Japan have efficiently landed on the moon earlier than.

Now that it has landed safely, the second a part of the IM-1 mission can start. Odysseus carried six NASA payloads and 6 industrial payloads with it to the moon. A few of these, resembling units to help with the touchdown and a digicam to take images of the touchdown, have already served their goal. Just a few have succeeded simply by making it to the moon – maybe most notably a group of 125 tiny sculptures by artist Jeff Koons. Others, together with devices to measure how the atmosphere across the moon impacts its floor, start their missions now.

The IM-1 mission is a part of NASA’s Industrial Lunar Payload Companies (CLPS) initiative, by which authorities contracts are awarded to personal corporations with the intention of constructing house flight capabilities by public-private partnerships. Three extra lunar landings are deliberate by CLPS in 2024, considered one of which is Intuitive Machines’ mission to reap water ice from the south pole of the moon.


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