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US Space News: Odysseus Spacecraft Goes Dormant on Moon After Lopsided Landing

US Space News: Odysseus Spacecraft Goes Dormant on Moon After Lopsided Landing

In a significant development for lunar exploration, the Odysseus spacecraft, the first U.S. vehicle to land on the Moon in half a century, has encountered unexpected challenges. After a lopsided touchdown on the lunar surface, Odysseus lost power and entered dormancy during a frigid lunar night. Let’s delve into the details of this historic mission and its recent setbacks.

The Odysseus Mission

Odysseus, developed by Intuitive Machines, a Texas-based aerospace company, embarked on its mission with high hopes. NASA had invested $118 million in building and flying this lunar lander. Its primary objectives included scientific research, exploration, and paving the way for future lunar missions.

The Lopsided Landing

On February 15, 2024, Odysseus was launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard a Falcon 9 rocket provided by Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Six days later, it reached lunar orbit, and anticipation grew as it prepared for descent.

However, during the final moments of its descent, an 11th-hour navigational glitch caused Odysseus to catch one of its feet on the lunar surface. The result? A sharply tilted position that immediately impeded its operations. Despite this setback, the lander successfully touched down on the Moon.

Power Loss and Dormancy

Odysseus’ troubles didn’t end there. A week after landing, the spacecraft lost power due to its precarious orientation. As it entered a frigid lunar night, its core mission came to an abrupt halt. The lopsided touchdown had hindered its ability to function optimally and achieve its scientific goals.

Farewell Transmission

Intuitive Machines’ ground control team received a poignant farewell transmission from Odysseus before it went dark in the Moon’s south pole region. The team affectionately referred to the lander as “Odie” and acknowledged its unexpected resilience.

Hope for Reawakening

Despite the challenges, there’s a glimmer of hope. Intuitive Machines plans to program Odysseus to “phone home” if it receives sufficient solar power during the next lunar sunrise. The company estimates this will happen in approximately three weeks. Flight controllers are working diligently to download the remaining data transmitted over the vast distance of 239,000 miles to Earth.

Odysseus’ journey, though marred by setbacks, remains a testament to human ingenuity and determination. As we await updates on its status, we can reflect on the significance of this mission—a small step toward a grand cosmic odyssey.

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