'Odysseus Has Found Its New Home'

It's a big moment for the 'lunar economy'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2024 6:55 AM CST
'Odysseus Has Found Its New Home'
This image provided by Intuitive Machines shows its Odysseus lunar lander over the near side of the moon following lunar orbit insertion on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024.   (Intuitive Machines via AP)

"Houston, Odysseus has found its new home," Intuitive Machines mission director Tim Crain said Thursday after the company's lander became the first American spacecraft to land on the moon since 1972. The landing—which came after some tense moments—makes the Texas-based company the first private company to successfully land a spacecraft on the moon. "After troubleshooting communications, flight controllers have confirmed Odysseus is upright and starting to send data," the company said in a post on X. "Right now, we are working to downlink the first images from the lunar surface." More:

  • Congratulations from NASA's chief. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson hailed the achievements in a post on X. The company, he said, "aced the landing of a lifetime." "What a triumph for humanity," Nelson said. "Odysseus has taken the Moon."

  • One big unknown. The AP reports that while the lander is upright and sending back a signal, Intuitive has not confirmed whether it reached its intended landing site in the south pole region. The company aimed to land it near the Malapert A impact crater, an area CNN describes as "characterized by treacherous and rocky terrain."
  • A huge day for the "lunar economy." Odysseus, which is carrying scientific instruments for NASA, is the first spacecraft in the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program to reach the moon. The program was set up for private companies to bring NASA payloads to the moon ahead of landings planned for later this decade. "The goal here is for us to investigate the moon in preparation for Artemis, and really to do business differently for NASA," Sue Lederer, CLPS project scientist at Johnson Space Center in Houston, said earlier this month. "One of our main goals is to make sure that we develop a lunar economy."
  • The next missions. Odysseus is the first private spacecraft to land on the moon but it won't be the last, the New York Times reports. Another Intuitive mission might be the next to land. Japanese company iSpace plans to try again following a failed mission last year. Two American companies, Astrobotic Technology and Firefly, also have missions planned this year. Astrobotic, whose Peregrine lander failed to reach the moon last month, has a contract to bring a $400 million NASA rover to the moon's south pole region.
(More moon landings stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.