Landmark moment: US achieves first moon landing in over 50 years

Web Desk
February 23, 2024

Intuitive Machines' robotic lander, named Odysseus, successfully touched down near the moon's south pole at 6:23pm EST on Thursday

In this photo courtesy of Intuitive Machines, Odysseus passes over the near side of the Moon following lunar orbit during the IM-1 mission on Wednesday. — INTUITIVE MACHINES/AFP

HOUSTON: In a historic moment, a privately built spacecraft has achieved the first US moon landing in over half a century.

Intuitive Machines' robotic lander, named Odysseus, successfully touched down near the moon's south pole at 6:23pm EST on Thursday.

The uncrewed six-legged robot faced a nail-biting final approach with a glitch in its autonomous navigation system. Engineers on the ground had to employ an untested workaround at the last minute, making the landing a suspenseful achievement.

After an anticipated radio blackout, communication was re-established with the faint signal confirming the successful landing. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson praised the accomplishment, stating, "Odysseus has taken the moon."

Odysseus is the first commercially manufactured and operated vehicle to achieve a "soft landing" on the moon, marking a significant milestone under NASA's Artemis lunar program. The spacecraft is carrying scientific instruments and technology demonstrations for NASA and commercial customers.

As part of NASA's long-term lunar exploration under the Artemis program, Odysseus aims to collect data on space weather interactions, radio astronomy, and lunar environmental aspects.

The achievement propels the United States ahead in the race to return astronauts to the moon, with a planned crewed Artemis mission in late 2026.

The success of Intuitive Machines' Odysseus is a testament to the growing role of private ventures in space exploration, leveraging advancements in technology to accomplish feats previously undertaken only by government agencies.

The lunar landing sets the stage for future missions and paves the way for sustained human exploration, aligning with NASA's ambitious goals for the next frontier - Mars.


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