CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The moon’s most recent arrival was said to be “alive and well” a day after its arrival. first American landing in half a century, but flight controllers were still trying to control it better.
Intuitive Machines reported Friday that it is communicating with its lander, Odysseus, and sending commands to acquire scientific data. But he noted, “We continue to learn more about vehicle-specific information” regarding location, overall condition and positioning.
The Houston company was targeting the south polar region, near the Malapert A crater, closer to the pole than anyone else so that NASA could explore the area before astronauts showed up later this decade.
With Thursday’s landing, Intuitive Machines became the first private company to land on the moon, a feat previously achieved by only five countries. The mission was largely sponsored by NASA, whose experiments were on board. NASA paid $118 million for the delivery as part of a program aimed at boosting the lunar economy.
One of NASA’s experiments was put into service when the lander’s navigation system failed in the final hours before landing. The lander made an extra orbit around the Moon to allow time for a last-minute switch to NASA’s laser system.
“Odie is a fighter,” mission director Tim Crain said Thursday night via X, formerly Twitter.
Another experiment didn’t go so well. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s EagleCam, a six-camera array, was supposed to eject 30 seconds before landing so that distant images of Odysseus’ landing could be captured. Instead, EagleCam landed, still attached to the lander.
The original plan had to be modified during the last orbit due to “unexpected events,” a university spokeswoman explained.
Intuitive Machines was the second company to target the moon under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Services program. Last month, Astrobotic Technology of Pittsburgh tried, but fuel leak in lander The mission was interrupted and the ship ended up crashing into Earth.
As of Thursday, the United States had not landed on the moon since Apollo 17’s Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt shut down NASA’s famous moon landing program in December 1972. NASA’s new effort to return astronauts to the moon is called Artemis in honor to the mythological twin sister of Apollo. He first landing of the Artemis crew It is planned for 2026 at the earliest.
The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.