April 17, 2024

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Intuitive Machines marks first US moon landing since the Apollo era

Intuitive Machines marks first US moon landing since the Apollo era

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A new moon arrival was said to be “alive and well” a day after it was done. First American landing Over half a century, but flight controllers are still trying to better understand its direction.

Intuitive Machines said Friday that it is communicating with the Odysseus lander, sending commands to obtain scientific data. But she noted: “We are continuing to learn more about vehicle-specific information” in terms of location, general health and positioning.

The Houston company was targeting the Antarctic region, near Malapert A crater, which is closer to the pole than any other company so that NASA can explore the region before astronauts appear later in the decade.

With Thursday's landing, Intuitive Machines became the first private company to successfully land on the moon, a feat that only five countries had previously achieved. The mission was largely sponsored by NASA, which had experiments on board. NASA paid $118 million for delivery under a program aimed at stimulating the lunar economy.

One of NASA's experiments was brought into service when the lander's navigation system failed in the last few hours before landing. The lander took an extra orbit around the Moon to allow time for a last-minute switch to NASA's laser system.

“Odie is a scraper,” Tim Crane, the mission's director, said late Thursday via X, previously Twitter.

Another experiment, a cube equipped with four cameras, was supposed to explode 30 seconds before landing to capture images of Odysseus' landing. But Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's EagleCam was intentionally turned off during the final descent due to the navigation switch and remained attached to the lander.

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Embry-Riddle's Troy Henderson said his team will try to launch EagleCam in the coming days, so it can image the lander from a distance of 26 feet (about 8 meters).

With Odysseus's location on the moon still uncertain, “getting that final image of the lander on the surface is still a mission critical for us,” Henderson told The Associated Press.

Intuitive Machines expects just one week of lunar operations for the solar-powered lander, before lunar darkness sets in.

The company was the second company to target the Moon under NASA's Commercial Lunar Services Program. Last month, Astrobotic Technology in Pittsburgh gave it a try, however Fuel leak on landing The mission was cut short and the spacecraft ended up on Earth.

As of Thursday, the United States had not landed on the moon since Apollo 17's Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt completed NASA's famous landing program in December 1972. NASA's new effort to return astronauts to the moon has been named Artemis after Apollo's legendary twin sister. . the First landing of the Artemis crew It is planned for 2026 at the earliest.

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