Odysseus moon lander anticipated to lose contact on Wednesday By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Intuitive Machines’ Odysseus spacecraft passes over the close to aspect of the Moon following lunar orbit insertion on February 21, 2024, on this handout picture launched February 22, 2024. Intuitive Machines/Handout by way of REUTERS/ File photograph

By Steve Gorman and Joey Roulette

(Reuters) -Odysseus, the primary U.S. spacecraft to land on the moon in half a century, was anticipated to go darkish on Wednesday, six days after an off-kilter landing that hindered its communications and solar-charging functionality, NASA and the corporate that flew the car mentioned.

Regardless of persistent difficulties in speaking with the lander and protecting it charged, NASA mentioned it managed to extract knowledge from all of its science payloads delivered to the lunar floor by the lander, flown by Texas-based Intuitive Machines.

“We have now performed a really profitable mission at this level,” Intuitive Machines CEO Stephen Altemus mentioned at a joint information briefing with NASA officers. He mentioned the movement of knowledge retrieved from the spacecraft elevated considerably after “sporadic” communications throughout the first few days.

Sue Lederer, a NASA undertaking scientist, described the movement of information as going from “a cocktail-size straw to a boba-tea-size straw of information.”

Engineers plan to place Odysseus “to sleep” on Wednesday night because the lander ends its sixth day on the lunar floor, as soon as solar energy regeneration is not ample to maintain it operating and sending telemetry again to Earth, at round 8 p.m. EST (0100 GMT), Altemus mentioned.

However he mentioned flight controllers would search to restart Odysseus in round three weeks, after the solar rises once more over the car’s touchdown web site within the moon’s south pole area.

NASA and Intuitive Machines had mentioned earlier than the mission’s launch that the payloads have been anticipated to function on the lunar floor for roughly seven days earlier than evening fell.

The Nova-C-class lander, formed like a hexagonal cylinder and standing 13 ft (4 m) tall, was launched on Feb. 15 from NASA’s Kennedy Area Middle in Florida on a Falcon 9 rocket equipped by Elon Musk’s SpaceX. It arrived in lunar orbit six days later.

The six-legged car reached the lunar floor final Thursday after an Eleventh-hour navigational glitch and descent that ended with Odysseus catching one among its ft on the bottom and touchdown in a sharply tilted place, instantly impeding its operations.

Intuitive Machines have mentioned human error was guilty for the navigational concern. Flight readiness groups had uncared for to manually unlock a security change earlier than launch, stopping subsequent activation of the car’s laser-guided vary finders and forcing flight engineers to hurriedly improvise an alternate throughout lunar orbit.

Whether or not or not failure of the vary finders and last-minute substitution of a work-around in the end precipitated Odysseus to land askew remained an open query, based on Intuitive officers.

A newly launched picture on Wednesday confirmed the spacecraft because it was touching down on the floor, with its touchdown gear visibly broken.

Altemus mentioned the spacecraft was transferring quicker than anticipated throughout remaining strategy and skidded to a cease because it landed. Altemus mentioned it ended up tilted at a 30-degree angle.

The corporate mentioned that two of the spacecraft’s communication antennae have been knocked out of fee, pointed the incorrect method, and that its photo voltaic panels have been likewise dealing with the incorrect course, limiting the car’s potential to recharge its batteries.

As a consequence, Intuitive mentioned earlier this week that it anticipated to lose contact with Odysseus on Tuesday morning, prematurely terminating the mission.

However the projected deadline for the lander’s finale got here and went as the corporate reported the spacecraft nonetheless functioning with extra battery life.

Regardless of its less-than-ideal landing, Odysseus turned the primary U.S. spacecraft to land on the moon since NASA’s final crewed Apollo mission to the lunar floor in 1972.

It was additionally the primary lunar touchdown ever by a commercially manufactured and operated house car, and the primary beneath NASA’s Artemis program, which goals to return astronauts to Earth’s pure satellite tv for pc this decade.

Up to now, house businesses of simply 4 different international locations have ever achieved a “delicate” moon touchdown – the previous Soviet Union, China, India and, simply final month, Japan, whose lander likewise tipped over on its aspect. The USA is the one nation ever to have despatched people to the lunar floor.


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