American Spacecraft Odysseus Makes History After Moon Landing Success

Intuitive Machines
Intuitive Machines

An American commercial lunar lander touched down on the moon Thursday, marking the first time the U.S. had landed on the surface in more than 50 years and the first time a privately-built built vehicle has made contact at all.

No American craft had landed on the moon since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972, until Odysseus touched down in the South Pole region of the moon late Thursday afternoon.

Built by Intuitive Machine, the Nova-C lander, nicknamed Odysseus, reached the lunar surface at approximately 6:23 p.m. ET, though a weak signal caused a glitch until flight controllers could gain better communication.

“What we can confirm, without a doubt, is our equipment is on the surface of the moon,” mission director Tim Crain told crew in the Houston control center, followed by a round of applause.

“I know this was a nail-biter, but we are on the surface and we are transmitting. Welcome to the moon,” Intuitive Machines CEO Steve Altemus said on the live webcast.

The spacecraft is “upright and starting to send data,” Intuitive Machines confirmed in a post on X. Crew are now working on accessing data that will provide the first images from the lunar surface.

Odysseus launched at 1:05 a.m. on Feb. 15 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson added in a post on X: “Today for the first time in more than a half-century, the US has returned to the moon. Today is a day that shows the power and promise of NASA's commercial partnerships. Congratulations to everyone involved in this great and daring quest.”

He hailed the mission in his speech, adding it bore “the dream of a new adventure, a new adventure in science, innovation, American leadership in space...what a triumph. Odysseus has taken the moon. This feat is a giant leap forward for all of humanity. Stay tuned.”

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