Commercial US spaceship Odysseus ‘tipped’ as it landed, says NASA - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

Commercial US spaceship Odysseus ‘tipped’ as it landed, says NASA

Feb 24, 2024 08:23 AM IST

Despite Odysseus' tilted landing, NASA and Intuitive Machines remain optimistic about the mission's success.

The US-made spacecraft, Odysseus, has landed on the moon for the first time in more than 50 years, but it is lying on its side, according to NASA and Intuitive Machines, the firm that designed and operated the lander.

Intuitive Machines? Odysseus lunar lander captures a wide field of view image of Schomberger crater on the Moon, in this handout picture released February 23, 2024. Intuitive Machines/Handout via REUTERS (via REUTERS)
Intuitive Machines? Odysseus lunar lander captures a wide field of view image of Schomberger crater on the Moon, in this handout picture released February 23, 2024. Intuitive Machines/Handout via REUTERS (via REUTERS)

The lander reached the lunar surface on Thursday at 6.23 pm ET, in the south-polar region near the crater Malapert A. However, it took some time before the lander’s communication systems could send a signal back to the flight controllers.

Unlock exclusive access to the story of India's general elections, only on the HT App. Download Now!

Intuitive Machines CEO Steve Altemus said that Odysseus “caught a foot in the surface and tipped” as it landed, causing it to tilt over.

Despite this, Altemus said that the lander is “near or at our intended landing site”. NASA and Intuitive Machines have been getting data from the lander and think that most scientific instruments are still functional.

ALSO READ| Commercial US spaceship Odysseus lands on moon but transmitting weak signal

“It really was a magical, magical day,” Tim Crain, the chief technology officer and co-founder of Intuitive Machines, said at a press conference on Friday.

Odysseus aims for future lunar base site

The landing site was selected because it is believed to have frozen water that could support a future permanent lunar base. The site is also very challenging, with many craters on the surface.

NASA and Intuitive Machines expect to release images and a reconstruction of the landing in the next few days. Nasa funded Intuitive Machines $118m for the mission, as part of its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, which gives contracts to private partners. The mission is also part of the Artemis program, which aims to send humans back to the moon.

Odysseus will conduct a seven-day mission, powered by solar energy until the landing site goes into the earth’s shadow. Nasa wants to study how the lunar soil was affected by the landing. Nasa also sent other devices with the lander, such as communication equipment.

The lander, which is 14ft (4.3 metres) tall and has six legs and a hexagonal shape, used Nasa’s experimental laser navigation system to guide its descent, after the laser instrument from Intuitive Machines failed.

ALSO READ| Norovirus outbreak reported in US: What you need to know about transmission and symptoms

Another device, called EagleCam, a cube with cameras made by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, was meant to detach 30 seconds before landing and take pictures of Odysseus’ landing, but it was turned off during descent because the navigation system had to be changed.

Troy Henderson from Embry-Riddle said that his team will try to release EagleCam in the next few days, so it can take a photo of the lander from about 26ft (8 metres) away.

Since Odysseus’s position on the moon is still unclear, “getting that final picture of the lander on the surface is still an incredibly important task for us,” Henderson said to Associated Press.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, April 14, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On