US’ Odysseus Becomes First-Ever Private Spacecraft To Land On Moon

US’ Odysseus Becomes First-Ever Private Spacecraft To Land On Moon

On February 22, a significant milestone was achieved in lunar exploration as Odysseus, the first private spacecraft from Intuitive Machines in Houston, Texas, successfully landed on the Moon. This marks the United States’ first lunar landing since 1972.

Despite initial challenges with laser rangefinders, Odysseus managed to land at 6:23 p.m. Houston time, sending a signal back to mission control amid cheers of success. Odysseus, launched on February 15 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, utilised innovative methane-based rocket fuel, which is more efficient and environmentally friendly. In addition to exploring potential ice resources, the spacecraft’s landing near the Malapert A crater opens doors for further exploration.

NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) programme, under which Odysseus operates, seeks to facilitate low-cost lunar missions with small aerospace companies. With NASA’s payloads onboard, including cameras to study rocket exhaust interactions, Odysseus exemplifies the programme’s potential.

The success of Odysseus boosts confidence in the CLPS programme and paves the way for future missions, including plans to send astronauts to the lunar south pole as early as 2026.

Moreover, Odysseus’s use of methane-based propellants sets a precedent for more environmentally friendly propulsion systems in space exploration.