Odysseus lands on the Moon: 1st US spacecraft to touch down in half a century

Odysseus lands on the Moon: 1st US spacecraft to touch down in half a century

When astronaut Neil Armstrong set foot on the alien planet in 1969, the Moon officially joined Earth.

Resources and labor were constantly being sent to this strange and harsh world over the course of the following few years. The Apollo missions were grounded in 1972, and everything came to an end. The silence was more than fifty years long.

NASA and private company Intuitive Machines have successfully landed the first American spacecraft on the Moon more than 50 years after Commander Eugene Cernan departed the Moon.

The spacecraft’s signal from the south polar region is weak even though it has touched down on the Moon. For a brief period following landing, the lander’s silence alarmed the Odysseus crew. But a weak signal indicated that it had touched down. “We’re still alive. The crew announced during the live stream that Odysseus now has a new home.

The uncharted and perilous area of Malapert A, a crater 300 kilometers from the Moon’s South Pole, is where Odysseus made his landing. This region bears the name Charles Malapert after a famous astronomer. It is made of the same lunar highland material as the Apollo 16 landing site.


Launched on February 15 from the Kennedy Space Centre, Odysseus set out on a direct course to Earth’s nearest celestial neighbour aboard a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket. Only minutes after it entered the icy expanse of space, the spacecraft broke free of the massive payload fairing of the rocket.

By positioning the spacecraft along the same path as the Apollo missions to the Moon, engineers had taken a cue from history to execute this mission flawlessly.

The direct route would take it to the Moon in eight days, as opposed to weeks for India’s Chandrayaan-3, which had to circle the Earth to increase its speed in order to reach the Moon.

With the help of its cryogenic propulsion system, the lander was able to travel quickly and effectively, avoid the Van Allen belts, and expose its electronics to less radiation.


Under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) programme, the lander is carrying six payloads, including scientific instruments to measure the plasma environment and supply data for upcoming Artemis astronauts.

It will test novel technologies like an electrostatic dust-removal system that has the potential to revolutionize spacesuit technology and a LIDAR-based sensor for range and descent velocity sensing. The precise location of the lander on the Moon’s surface will be made possible by a Laser Retro-Reflector Array, which will help with navigation and scientific measurements in the future.

Additionally, Odysseus will take pictures of the engine plume of the lander as it descends and once it touches down on the lunar surface. We will now downlink and analyse these pictures. The spacecraft was also equipped with an S-band radio navigation beacon, the size of a CubeSat, to showcase autonomous spacecraft positioning.

The spacecraft will be used by engineers to obtain some of the first lunar images of the Milky Way Galaxy Centre.

Now that Odysseus is where it was meant to be on the moon, science will hopefully start based on signal reception because sunlight never seems to reach the southernmost point of the moon. Seven days remain for the spacecraft.

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