After Sideways Landing, Private Moon Lander to Shut Down

Odysseus, a private US spacecraft, will cease operations on Tuesday
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2024 12:11 PM CST
After Sideways Landing, Lunar Lander Will Shut Down Early
These photos from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera team show where Odysseus landed on the moon.   (NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University via AP)

Odysseus made it to the moon in historic fashion, but the private lunar lander will shut down for good on Tuesday because of a bumpy landing that left it toppled over on its side. As the AP reports, that's "two to three days" earlier than expected. Details:

  • The problem: The 14-foot-tall robotic craft came down faster than expected, and one of its legs got stuck in a crevice, per That caused the craft to tip over, and the mission will end when sunlight is no longer shining on its solar panels, Houston company Intuitive Machines, which built and operates the lander, said Monday.
  • Images: The company released images from the craft's descent on Monday, but none yet from the surface. Things are slower than expected because its antennas are not pointed at Earth as planned, per the New York Times.

  • Historic: Despite the shortened mission, Odysseus still became the first private lander to reach the moon, as well as the first US craft to land in more than 50 years. NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spotted the craft on the moon's surface and said it landed within a mile of its intended target near the south pole, reports CBS News. No craft has ever landed so close to the pole. Odysseus carried up six experiments for NASA, which paid the company about $120 million.
  • More moon news: Japan's first moon lander, SLIM, responded to a signal from Earth on Monday, suggesting it has revived after a two-week-long lunar night, per the AP and the Times. (SLIM also landed on its side.)

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