American moon lander Odysseus still 'kicking' a week after landing sideways. technology news

Odysseus, First American spacecraft to land on the Moon Half a century on, Thursday was “still on,” but close to being shut down, as scientists waited for the final signals from their multimillion-dollar mission to collect data.

The spacecraft landed on the lunar surface a week ago and its operators expected it to last for 10 days. but one Awkward landing disrupts communications And its solar chargers were affected.

The final word on its fate will come from Texas-based Intuitive Machines, the company that NASA paid $118 million to build the robotic lander and fly it on the lunar surface. At 10:20 a.m. ET (1520 GMT), Intuitive said Odysseus was still operational and that flight controllers intended to download additional data and configure the lander to “phone home” if it had to undergo a three-week sleep. More solar energy is available after. Cold moonlit night.

Shares of Intuitive Machines were down 3% on Thursday and have lost more than a third of their value so far this week after a rough landing on Feb. 22.

NASA has said it managed to extract some data from all six of its science payloads, though it remains to be seen how much information the agency and a half-dozen commercial payloads lost.

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The 13 feet (4 meters) high Nova-C-class lander was launched Feb. 15 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a Falcon 9 rocket supplied by Elon Musk's SpaceX. It began orbiting the Moon six days later.

The six-legged vehicle reached the lunar surface last Thursday after an 11th-hour navigational glitch and landing that ended with Odysseus landing sideways or in a sharply tilted position, immediately disrupting its operations.

Intuitive Machines said the next day that human error was to blame for the shipping problem.

Flight preparation teams had neglected to manually unlock a safety switch before launch, preventing subsequent activation of the vehicle's laser-guided range finder and forcing flight engineers to quickly improvise an alternative during lunar orbit. Was forced to.

An Intuitive executive told Reuters on Saturday that the company's decision to skip test-firing of the laser system during pre-launch testing to save time and money led to a missed safety switch.

Whether the failure of the range finders and a last-minute replacement of the work-around ultimately caused Odysseus to land sideways remains an open question, according to Intuitive officials.

antenna, solar panel affected

Still, the company said last Friday that the spacecraft's two communications antennae were malfunctioning, pointing in the wrong direction, and its solar panels were also facing the wrong direction, making it difficult to recharge the vehicle's batteries. The capacity was limited.

As a result, Intuitive said Monday that it expected to lose contact with Odysseus on Tuesday morning, bringing the mission to a premature end.

NASA chief Bill Nelson told Reuters on Tuesday that Odysseus had apparently landed near a crater wall and was inclined at an angle of 12 degrees, though it was not clear whether that meant 12 degrees from the surface or 12 from an upright position. Had a degree.

Intuitive officials said on February 23 that engineers believed Odysseus caught the foot of one of its landing legs on the moon's surface as it neared touchdown and overturned before coming to rest horizontally. Was, apparently standing on a rock.

An image from an orbiting NASA spacecraft released Monday shows the lander as a small speck near its intended destination in the moon's south pole region.

Odysseus became the first American spacecraft to land on the Moon since NASA's last crewed Apollo mission to land on the Moon in 1972.

It was the first landing on the Moon by a commercially built and operated spacecraft, and the first landing under NASA's Artemis program, which aims to return astronauts to Earth's natural satellite this decade.

To date, space agencies from only four other countries have achieved “soft” landings on the Moon – the former Soviet Union, China, India and, most recently, last month, Japan, whose lander was similarly tipped onto its side.
The United States is the only country to have sent humans to the surface of the Moon.

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