In this photo courtesy of Intuitive Machines, Odysseus is passing by the moon

In this image courtesy of Intuitive Machines, Odysseus is passing by the moon.

For the first time since the Apollo era, an American spacecraft has landed on the moon: an unmanned commercial robot, funded by NASA to pave the way for American astronauts to return to Earth’s cosmic neighbor later this decade. can be done

Odysseus, built by Houston-based Intuitive Machines, touched down near the lunar south pole at 2323 GMT on Thursday after a final descent. It had to be switched to an experimental landing system and it took several minutes to establish radio contact with the lander after it came to rest.

“Today, for the first time in more than half a century, America has returned to the moon,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a video. Started the journey there and led it.”

Images from an external “Eagle Cam” designed to be shot by the spacecraft during its final seconds of descent were released early Friday, a member of the team that built it told AFP. can go

“After tracing the communications error, flight controllers have confirmed that Odysseus is upright and are beginning to send data,” Intuitive Machines said in its latest update on X.

“Right now, we’re working to downlink the first images from the lunar surface.”

Oh Picture of the previous moon Another failed last month by a U.S. company, which staked out a bid to demonstrate that private industry last acquired a manned spaceship in 1972 during the Apollo 17 mission by the U.S. space agency NASA. What was there to repeat the feat?

Nova-C was the first attempt to land on the moon by a private company.

Spacecraft landing sites on the Moon.

Lunar South Pole

Highlighting the technical challenges, one of the ship’s navigation systems failed and Odysseus instead conducted the final leg of its journey using an experimental laser guidance system developed by NASA as a technology demonstration only. .

Confirmation of the landing was supposed to come seconds after the milestone, but instead nearly 15 minutes passed as announcers wondered if the plane had come down “off angle.”

Finally, the company’s chief technology officer, Tim Crane, confirmed that “our equipment is on the surface of the moon and we’re moving,” as Mission Control clapped.

Odysseus touches down at Malapert A, a crater 300 km (180 mi) from the lunar pole.

NASA hopes to eventually harvest polar ice and a long-term presence for both drinking water and rocket fuel for onward journeys to Mars under its flagship Artemis program.

This image courtesy of Intuitive Machine shows the first view of Earth taken during the IM-1 mission.

This image courtesy of Intuitive Machine shows the first view of Earth taken during the IM-1 mission.

Senior NASA official Joel Kearns said the current mission is “the first step to the South Pole to actually look at the atmospheric conditions where we’re going to send our astronauts in the future.”

NASA’s first crewed mission to the region is scheduled before 2026. America’s geopolitical rival China is also planning to send its first crew to the moon in 2030, ushering in a new era of space competition.

Exclusive Club

The hexagonal-shaped Odysseus, about the size of a large golf cart, launched from Florida on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on February 15, boasting a new liquid methane, liquid oxygen propulsion system that quickly Traveled a quarter of a million miles in time.

It has six NASA science instruments, including cameras, to investigate. An instrument to analyze changes in the resulting plume from the spacecraft’s engine, and clouds of charged dust particles suspended at the surface during twilight as a result of solar radiation.

The rest of the cargo was sent by private clients of Intuitive Machines, and includes 125 stainless steel Mini Moons by artist Jeff Koons.

Odysseus Moon Lander

Graphic by American company Intuitive Machines of the Odysseus Nova-C class lander, part of NASA’s Artemis project to return humans to the Moon and establish a permanent base there.

The cargo can last seven days before the moon falls, rendering Odysseus unusable.

NASA paid Intuitive Machines $118 million to ship its hardware under a new initiative called Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS), which it plans to privatize cargo services to achieve savings and stimulate the broader lunar economy. was created to delegate the sector.

The first CLPS mission, by Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic, launched in January, but its Peregrine spacecraft leaked fuel and was eventually brought back to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.

Spacecraft landing on the Moon must navigate treacherous terrain and rely on thrusters to control their descent in the absence of an atmosphere.

Until now, only the space agencies of the Soviet Union, the United States, China, India and Japan had accomplished the feat, creating an exclusive club.

© 2024 AFP

Reference: America Returns Spaceship to Moon, Private Sector’s First (2024, February 23) https://phys.org/news/2024-02-america-spaceship-moon-private-sector.html February 23, 2024 Obtained from

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