Lodi Valley News.com

Complete News World

US lands first moon landing in half a century by private spacecraft via Reuters

US lands first moon landing in half a century by private spacecraft via Reuters

© Reuters. The intuitively designed Nova-C lunar lander is displayed at the space agency's headquarters in Houston, Texas, USA 10/03/2023 REUTERS/Evan Garcia

By Steve Gorman and Joey Rowlett

(Reuters) – A spacecraft built and flown by Houston-based private company Intuitive Engine touched down near the moon's south pole on Thursday, the first U.S. landing on the lunar surface in more than half a century and the first completely private. Dept.

The six-legged robotic lander, named Odysseus, touched down at 8:23 p.m. Thursday, the agency and NASA commentators said in a joint webcast from the Intuitive Engines Mission Operations Center in Houston.

As planned, the spacecraft is believed to have landed in a crater called Malabert A near the moon's south pole.

The landing, which came a day after the spacecraft reached lunar orbit and a week after liftoff from Florida, was confirmed by signals sent to mission control about 384,000 km away.

However, it took several minutes to re-establish contact with the vehicle, and the initial signal was weak, leaving mission control uncertain about the lander's exact position and position, flight controllers heard on the webcast said.

The spacecraft is not designed to provide live video.

The landing came after an 11-hour failure of the spacecraft's auto-navigation system, which required engineers on Earth to come up with a solution.

The vehicle, which carries a suite of scientific instruments and technology demonstrations for NASA and several commercial customers, is designed to operate on solar power for seven days before the sun sets on the 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 landings and the planned return of NASA astronauts later in the decade.

See also  UK strike wave opens crisis for Rishi Sunak - 12/14/2022 - World

The unmanned IM-1 mission was sent to the moon on Wednesday aboard a Falcon 9 rocket launched by Elon Musk's company SpaceX from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Thursday's landing marks the first controlled descent of a U.S. spacecraft on the lunar surface since Apollo 17 in 1972, when NASA's last humans touched lunar soil with astronauts Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt.

To date, only four other countries have landed spacecraft on the moon — the former Soviet Union, China, India and, most recently, last month, Japan. The United States is the only country to have sent humans to the moon. surface.

Odysseus' success marks the first “soft landing” on the Moon by a vehicle built and operated by a private company and the first time under NASA's Artemis lunar program, the first time the United States competes to return astronauts from Earth to a natural satellite. lands its own manned spacecraft there.

NASA aims to land its first crewed Artemis mission on the moon by late 2026, a long-term, sustained lunar exploration and a boost for human flights to Mars. The effort is focused on the moon's south pole because of its abundance of frozen water used for life support and rocket fuel production.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles and Joey Rowlett in Washington)