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Odysseus moon lander: how to watch the first US-led moon landing since 1972

Carrying five Nasa scientific instruments onboard, the IM-1 mission aims to study plume-surface interactions — as well as radio astronomy and space weather (Intuitive Machines )
Carrying five Nasa scientific instruments onboard, the IM-1 mission aims to study plume-surface interactions — as well as radio astronomy and space weather (Intuitive Machines )

Intuitive Machines and Nasa’s latest mission to the moon is just days away from its lunar destination.

The unmanned craft that successfully left Earth on February 15 is expected to reach the moon’s surface on Thursday, February 22.

If all goes well, space fans can also tune in to watch when the Intuitive Machines’ lander Odysseus lands close to the lunar south pole.

News of Odysseus’ imminent lunar landing comes days after the mission’s craft sent spectacular images and videos from space.

Also known as IM-1, the initiative will be the first time an American-led mission has reached the moon’s surface since 1972. It will also mark the first time that a privately run US company will land on the moon.

Carrying five Nasa scientific instruments onboard, the mission aims to study plume-surface interactions — as well as radio astronomy and space weather.

Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming moon landing.

How to watch the Odysseus moon landing

Launched on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the IM-1 craft has been travelling to the moon for the last five days.

On Wednesday (February 21), Odysseus will enter the moon’s orbit, marking the next critical step in the lander’s mission.

The IM-1 mission craft is then expected to land on the Moon at 4.49pm CST (10.49pm GMT) on Thursday, February 22nd.

Intuitive Machines is reportedly planning to live-stream the landing from its webpage. However, it hasn’t yet revealed any details about when this will start.

According to reports, once on the moon, the four-metre-tall Odysseus lander is expected to be operational for about a week.

The latest update from Intuitive Machine HQ says: “Odysseus continues to be in excellent health, and flight controllers are analysing and managing the lander’s thermal conditioning for critical systems and payloads with a combination of heater power and attitude control to maximise efficiency.

“We expect to continue to provide mission updates at least once a day on X and the IM-1 Mission web page, where we intend to host a live stream for landing coverage.”

What is the goal of IM-1?

Intuitive Machine’s first mission was designed to carry several Nasa payloads that may hopefully support human missions on the moon in the coming years.

The lander will ferry several Nasa technological tools to the moon, as well as other commercial projects and some artwork by the artist Jeff Koons.

Initial reports suggest the lander will remain in operation for more than a week before the sun stops shining on the landing site.

Intuitive Machine is planning two more missions in 2024. These come as Nasa gears up for future astronauts to set foot on the moon in 2026 as part of its Artemis mission.

What is Intuitive Machines?

Intuitive Machines is a Texas-based company that identifies itself as an “end-to-end space exploration company delivering lunar access, lunar data services, extreme lunar mobility, and more”. It was founded in 2013 by Stephen Altemus, Kam Ghaffarian, and Tim Crain.

Nasa contracted the commercial company as part of its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative.

According to Intuitive Machine’s website, its spacecraft Nova-C “will spearhead this trailblazing mission toward creating a commercial lunar economy”.