Private US robot spacecraft lands on moon for first time in 50 years

Intuitive Machines' Odysseus lunar lander successfully touched down near Malapert A in the South Pole region of the moon on Thursday evening, marking the first American spacecraft to land on the moon in over 50 years. The last American spacecraft to land on the moon was during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

The lunar lander, part of NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative and Artemis campaign, landed at 6:24 p.m. ET but temporarily lost signal transmission. The signal was eventually regained with the help of a dish in the United Kingdom.

The uncrewed spacecraft, named Nova-C and also known as Odysseus, was launched from Florida on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. It has been circling the moon about 57 miles above the surface and remains in good health, transmitting flight data and lunar images to Intuitive Machines' mission control center in Houston.

NASA stated that the instruments onboard the lander will conduct scientific research and demonstrate technologies to improve understanding of the Moon's environment and enhance landing precision and safety in the challenging conditions of the lunar south polar region.

The mission director, Tim Crain, confirmed that the equipment was on the surface of the moon and transmitting, despite the temporary signal loss. Intuitive Machines' successful moon landing comes after a previous lunar lander mission from Astrobotic Technology encountered propulsion difficulties and failed to reach the moon in January.


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