Odysseus makes history by becoming the first private module to successfully land on the Moon – La Opinion

Odysseus makes history by becoming the first private module to successfully land on the Moon – La Opinion

“Welcome to the Moon.”

These were the words of Intuitive Machines CEO Steve Altemus following the successful landing of the Odysseus lunar module.

The space vehicle, also called the Nova-C lander, touched down on our satellite on Thursday, a week after its release.

“Houston, Odysseus has found its new home,” responded Tim Crain, the company’s technology director, amid celebrations by the operators in the control tower.

From there the operation was broadcast live, although communication was cut off in the last seconds before landing and it was thought that it had failed.

Intuitive Machines employees celebrate Odysseus's moon landing
Getty Images
The Intuitive Machines staff exploded with joy when the success of the mission was confirmed.

A historic moon landing

Is about the first ship developed by a private company that lands on the Moon and also the first American to do so in more than 50 years, since the famous Apollo program and its last mission: Apollo 17 in 1972.

Bill Nelson, director of NASA, described the achievement as “a giant leap for all of humanity,” emulating the words of Neil Armstrong, the first person to set foot on the Moon in 1969.

Neil Armstrong, aboard Apollo 11, descends to the moon
Getty Images
Neil Armstrong, aboard Apollo 11, was the first man to set foot on the Moon.

The Odysseus was launched into space on February 9 aboard a SpaceX Falcon rocket and during the following days traveled almost a million kilometers until reaching the orbit of the Moon.

Before the moon landing, the exact time at which the ship would touch down had to be readjusted several times.

It landed near a crater called Malapert A, located in the area of the south polar region of the satellite.

Landing on the moon at that specific location represented a significant technical challenge, given the complexity of the descent maneuvers and the precision required to land in an area of ​​scientific interest.

The south polar region of the Moon has long been a focus of interest for scientists, since it is believed that frozen water abounds in its permanently shadowed craters.

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A historic moment, despite the doubts

Intuitive Machines Assembly Integration and Test Engineer Mario Romero watches nervously
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There were moments of tension while waiting for Odysseus’ signal.

Analysis by Jonathan Amos, BBC Science Correspondent

We have just witnessed an important moment, not only for the commercial exploitation of space but for the American space program in general.

Intuitive Machines has ended a half-century of the United States’ absence from the surface of the Moon. Since the last Apollo mission, no American team had made a soft landing on the lunar soil.

The Odysseus space module has no one on board, it is just a robot, but its planned scientific investigations make it a explorer for the return of astronauts later this decade.

The Odysseus one day before his moon landing
The Odysseus one day before his moon landing.

The question we all ask ourselves now is: what condition is it in?

It clearly landed soft enough to transmit back to Earth, but Intuitive Machines’ controllers don’t have the clarity they were hoping for… at least not yet.

In the next few hours, as engineers work to understand the signals coming from the Moon, a picture of the state of the ship will emerge.

Recall that we had to wait a couple of hours before the Japanese space agency could tell us that its Slim lander was down and safe, albeit in an awkward position.

Odysseus may also find himself in an awkward position.

But don’t underestimate what just happened. The United States is back on the Moon.

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The double mission of Odysseus

NASA paid $118 million dollars to Intuitive Machines to carry out the operation.

The Odysseus will operate for a maximum of seven Earth days, the length of the lunar day before it runs out of power due to the arrival of night on the satellite.

Getty Images
Only the United States, the former USSR, China, India and Japan have landed spacecraft on the Moon.

The module carries to the Moon NASA scientific instruments and commercial cargo.

The former will be used to carry out scientific research on the lunar surface, especially in the south pole area, which can provide valuable information on lunar geology, soil composition and radiation environment, among other aspects.

They will also allow test new technologies in the lunar environmentfrom landing processes to scientific instruments and mobility systems, which would pave the way for future human and robotic exploration missions.

Furthermore, the mission seeks to lay the foundation for transporting and deploying commercial customer payloads, which could include communications technology, private scientific experiments, and even cultural or promotional devices.

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