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2024-02-23 14:45:09

First US spacecraft lands on Moon in 52 years

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First US spacecraft lands on Moon in 52 years

A spacecraft built and flown by Houston-based Intuitive Machines landed on the moon at 2323 GMT on Thursday.

It’s the first US touchdown on the lunar surface in more than half a century after 1972 and the first ever by a private company.

The news was confirmed by Intuitive Machine's chief executive Steve Altemus, who said: "I know this was a nail biter but we are on the on the surface and we are transmitting. Welcome to the moon."

The company behind the mission said flight controllers received a weak signal from the ship. "We're evaluating how we can refine that signal," said mission director Tim Crain.

"Without a doubt our equipment is on the surface of the Moon, and we are transmitting," he said. "Congratulations, IM team, we'll see how much more we can get from that."

What is the spacecraft's mission?

The six-legged robotic lander, dubbed Odysseus, targeted the Malapert A crater near the moon's south pole.

Odysseus carries a suite of scientific instruments and technology demonstrations for NASA and several commercial customers and is designed to operate on solar power for seven days before the sun sets over the polar landing site.

The NASA payload will focus on collecting data on space weather interactions with the lunar surface, radio astronomy and other aspects of the lunar environment for future landers and NASA's planned return of astronauts later this decade.

Odyssey to the moon

Odysseus launched on February 15 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The spacecraft boasts a new type of supercooled liquid oxygen, liquid methane propulsion system that allows it to race through space in quick time.

Odysseus remained "in excellent health" as it continued to orbit the moon, about 239,000 miles (384,000 kilometers) from Earth, transmitting flight data and lunar images to Intuitive Machines' mission control center in Houston, the company said Wednesday.

Bd-pratidin English/Lutful Hoque

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