Intuitive Machines' Lunar Lander Embarks on Multi-Day Journey to the Moon

Intuitive Machines’ Lunar Lander Embarks on Multi-Day Journey to the Moon

Intuitive Machines’ Odysseus embarks on a historic journey to the moon, potentially becoming the first privately constructed lander to grace the lunar surface. Riding atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, this remarkable lander hitched a ride on a booster with an impressive 17 flights already under its belt, suggesting the possibility of future journeys. SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1 welcomed back the booster safely, hinting at the prospect of its reuse. Both SpaceX and Intuitive Machines have confirmed the successful deployment of Odysseus, marking the commencement of its multi-day odyssey to the moon.

 

Intuitive Machines' Lunar Lander Embarks on Multi-Day Journey to the Moon

 

Specifically, Intuitive Machines has targeted the Malapert A crater near the moon’s southern pole as Odysseus’ designated landing site. While the spacecraft can operate for approximately 14 Earth days under solar power, the company aims for touchdown by February 22. As the inaugural Nova-C type lander slated for launch this year, Odysseus carries five NASA payloads alongside commercial cargo.

The mission’s objectives encompass precision landing demonstrations and testing of communication and navigation node capabilities. Additionally, it will observe interactions between rocket plumes and lunar terrain, as well as space weather phenomena. IM-1 stands among NASA’s chosen missions to transport scientific instruments to the moon under the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative in the coming years. The first CLPS mission to embark was Astrobotic’s Peregrine Mission 1, which, unfortunately, encountered an anomaly preventing proper orientation of its solar panels and leading to propellant leakage. Regrettably, Peregrine’s lunar journey concluded prematurely as it met its end during Earth’s atmospheric reentry.