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Five things to know about the Odysseus moon landing 

Five things to know about the Odysseus moon landing 
Five things to know about the Odysseus moon landing 

A robotic lunar lander developed by Houston-based Intuitive Machines became the first private spacecraft to land on the moon Thursday.

The Odysseus lunar lander’s victory, the first U.S. landing on the moon in over 50 years, faced some difficulties in its trip to the lunar surface, with Intuitive Machines CEO Stephen Altemus calling it “a nail-biter” following the landing.

Here are five things to know about the landing:

It was the first lunar landing for the U.S. in over 50 years

Odysseus’s touchdown on the lunar surface marked the first lunar landing for a U.S. spacecraft in over 50 years, according to The Associated Press. The last lunar landing occurred in 1972 with the Apollo 17 mission.

It was the first private spacecraft to land on the moon

Odysseus became the first private spacecraft to land on the moon when it touched down Thursday. It’s part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services, featuring private contracts between the agency and U.S. companies for the delivery of materials to the moon.

“Odysseus has a new home,” Intuitive Machines posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, after it successfully landed.

The spacecraft was launched from the Kennedy Space Center last week on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX is also a private company that works with NASA.

Among its goals is to investigate space weather

Odysseus has scientific instruments to help “perform science test technologies and demonstrate capabilities” as NASA works on its exploration of the moon.

According to NASA, while on its way to the moon, the lander’s instruments were going to assist in measuring fuel quantities and gathering data about plume-surface interactions. Now that it is on the moon, its instruments will investigate space weather and lunar surface interactions and radio astronomy, per NASA.

It faced some troubles on its journey to the moon

Before landing on the moon, Odysseus faced issues and its expected touchdown time was delayed. In the few hours before the landing, the craft’s laser navigation system failed, according to The Associated Press. Therefore, Intuitive Machines’ flight control team had to rely on an experimental NASA laser system.

It will help prepare for future human exploration of the moon

“@Int_Machines’ uncrewed lunar lander landed at 6:23pm ET (2323 UTC), bringing NASA science to the Moon’s surface,” NASA posted on X Thursday. “These instruments will prepare us for future human exploration of the Moon under #Artemis.”

Under NASA’s Artemis program, humans will return to the lunar surface in 2026, with the first woman and person of color making the trip, according to the agency.

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