Odysseus probe “broke its leg” during landing on the Moon


After a perfect launch and arrival in the Moon's orbit, the Nova-C probe (in this version, called Odysseus), from Intuitive Machines, landed improperly and fell onto the lunar soil. This hindered communication with Earth and made it difficult to use certain tools that NASA wanted to test.

However, Bill Nelson, the agency's administrator, told reporters this Wednesday (28) that the mission is considered a success. “We are on day six of what was planned as an eight-day mission. And we are still receiving data. And we are receiving data from all six of our instruments.”

NASA instruments include a laser-based descent and landing sensor, a camera system to detail the plume generated by the Odysseus lunar landing, and a new “space-age fuel gauge” that uses sensors to measure the remaining propellant in the lander tanks.

NASA and Intuitive Machines provide mission updates

When the 4.3-meter-tall robotic vehicle reached its waiting destination, landing in an eroded crater near the lunar south pole called Malapert A, it stumbled onto the surface, leaving the spacecraft askew. Until this Wednesday (28), the status of the spacecraft and all scientific instruments was still unclear.

At a press conference held this afternoon at NASA's Johnson Space Center, representatives from the agency and Intuitive Machines provided updates on the IM-1 mission, which marked the U.S. return to Earth's natural satellite since the end of the Apollo program. for more than half a century.

In attendance were Joel Kearns, deputy associate administrator for Exploration at NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Sue Lederer, project scientist for the agency's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, Steve Altemus, CEO and co-founder of Intuitive Machines , and Tim Crain, CTO and co-founder of the company.

The IM-1 mission successfully landed the first spacecraft in the Moon's south polar region, marking the first return from the United States since Apollo 17 and the first commercial lunar lander to transmit valuable scientific data from each NASA payload of the Moon. lunar surface. Additionally, the operation of the company's liquid methane and liquid oxygen propulsion system in deep space is flight-proven through successful mission operations. Intuitive Machines achieved these achievements in the company's first attempt to land on the Moon.

Intuitive Machines, in a statement

As reported at the conference, the spacecraft exceeded expectations, providing not only data from all NASA instruments, but also from the other six payloads from partner commercial companies.

Selfies from Odysseus' moon landing

During the press conference, the company presented new images taken by the Odysseus probe's landing cameras. In them, it is possible to see the module tilted on the surface of the Moon and one of its “legs” broken, “but even more upright than we initially thought”, Altemus said at the press conference.

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The IM-1 mission is part of CLPS, a program through which NASA contracts private U.S. companies for cargo services to the Moon. The agency considers CLPS a more cost-effective way to do science while also seeding the which it hopes will become a prosperous lunar economy.

As revealed at the press conference, Intuitive Machines has two more missions to the Moon planned for 2024 – the next one will see a robot drill into the surface of the star. “We open the doors to a robust and prosperous cislunar economy in the future. This is convincing,” said Altemus. “I think this CLPS experiment, this first landing, the success on the Moon for the U.S. for the first time in 52 years, is really a point in history that we should celebrate.”

The IM-1 mission was expected to last about half a lunar day, which is equivalent to roughly seven Earth days. This has become an uncertainty, as the solar energy collection panels are not well positioned after the fall.

However, Intuitive Machines reported that “Odysseus continues to generate solar energy on the Moon”, which can meet the established deadline, being turned off on Friday (1st), when the lunar night begins, and being able to wake up again within two weeks, as happened with the Japanese SLIM probe.


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