US spacecraft Odysseus stops working days after tipping over on Moon surface | World News - Hindustan Times
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US spacecraft Odysseus stops working days after tipping over on Moon surface

Mar 01, 2024 06:24 AM IST

Odysseus, carrying six NASA experiments valued at $118 million, represents a significant step in NASA's commercial lunar delivery program.

Odysseus, the first private US spacecraft to land on the moon, fell silent on Thursday, a week after breaking its leg at touchdown and tipping over near the lunar south pole.

This image of Intuitive Machines shows approximately 30 meters (98 feet) above the lunar surface before Intuitive Machines' Odysseus lunar lander lands on the south pole region of the moon.(AFP)
This image of Intuitive Machines shows approximately 30 meters (98 feet) above the lunar surface before Intuitive Machines' Odysseus lunar lander lands on the south pole region of the moon.(AFP)

The conclusion arrived as flight controllers received one last image from Odysseus before instructing its computer and power systems to enter standby mode. This precautionary measure aims to preserve the lander's potential to reawaken in two to three weeks. According to Intuitive Machines spokesman Josh Marshall, these final actions depleted the lander's batteries, effectively putting Odysseus into a prolonged hibernation.

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“Good night, Odie. We hope to hear from you again,” the company said via X, formerly Twitter. Originally slated for just a week-long mission on the moon, the lander exceeded expectations when Intuitive Machines successfully landed Odysseus on February 22, making it the first private company in the US to land on the moon. This feat placed them among the few countries, including Japan, to have accomplished such a landing since the 1960s.

Last Thursday, the six-legged vehicle successfully reached the lunar surface despite an 11th-hour navigational glitch. However, the descent resulted in an awkward landing, with Odysseus touching down in a sideways or sharply tilted position. This immediately impeded its operations.

Despite facing challenges, Intuitive Machines' lander, Odysseus, surpassed the company's initial expectations by remaining operational despite sustaining damage that affected its solar power and communication abilities, all while being in a tipped-over position.

Odysseus, carrying six NASA experiments valued at $118 million, represents a significant step in NASA's commercial lunar delivery program. Previous attempts by private companies had not succeeded, with one lander crashing back to Earth in January.

NASA sees these private landers as precursors to manned missions, expected to occur in the coming years. Prior to Odysseus, the last U.S. moon landing was by Apollo 17 astronauts Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt in 1972.

(With inputs from AP)

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