Odysseus Becomes First American Ship To Land On The Moon In 52 Years

By Bill Galluccio

February 23, 2024

Photo: GREGG NEWTON / AFP / Getty Images

Intuitive Machines' Odysseus moon lander made history on Thursday (February 22) as it successfully touched down on the lunar surface at 6:24 p.m. ET. It is the first commercial spacecraft to land on the moon and marks the first time an American-made spacecraft has reached the moon in 52 years.

There were a few tense moments before the landing as engineers had to deal with last-minute communication and navigation issues.

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

Odysseus was designed to scout the moon's surface as part of NASA's Artemis program to send astronauts back to the moon by the end of the decade.

"Today, for the first time in more than a half-century, the US has returned to the moon," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. "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."

Odysseus is equipped with six scientific payloads designed by NASA and is expected to operate for up to seven days along the moon's south pole.

"The NASA payloads will focus on demonstrating communication, navigation, and precision landing technologies, and gathering scientific data about rocket plume and lunar surface interactions, as well as space weather and lunar surface interactions affecting radio astronomy," NASA explained.

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