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'Odysseus' Lands on the Moon, the First Successful U.S. Lunar Landing in More Than 50 Years

Screen shot from Intuitive Machine's YouTube video

Florida - Friday February 23, 2024: Intuitive Machines’ un-crewed lunar lander dubbed 'Odysseus' successfully touched down in the south polar region of the moon at 6:23 p.m. EST Thursday evening.

It is the first time since 1972 that an American-built spacecraft has landed on the moon. It is also the first lunar lander built by a private company to successfully make the trip to our closest celestial neighbor.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying Odysseus took off from the Kennedy Space center here in Florida early last Thursday morning. It made the nearly 239,000 journey in about seven and a half days.

It was not an easy landing.

A few hours before touch-down, crucial parts of the navigation system failed to respond. However NASA's Navigation Doppler Lidar is among the 12 payloads aboard the lander and flight engineers were able to bypass Odysseus' malfunctioning navigational system and use NASA' experimental instrument to guide the spacecraft to a safe landing.

“After troubleshooting communications, flight controllers have confirmed Odysseus is upright and starting to send data,” Intuitive Machines said in a statement.

6 of the 12 scientific instruments aboard Odysseus are NASA's, in addition to the Navigation Doppler, there is a including Laser Retroreflector Array, which is a passive optical instrument that will function as a permanent location marker on the Moon for decades to come.