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America’s First Successful Moon Landing in 50 Years by Private Robot Spacecraft

On Thursday night, the United States saw the Odysseus lunar lander from Intuitive Machines touchdown close to Malapert A in the moon’s South Pole region.

Since the last crewed Apollo mission more than 50 years ago, this was the first time an American spacecraft has touched down on the moon.

The Apollo 17 mission in 1972 marked the final time an American spacecraft set foot on the moon.

Thursday at 6:24 p.m. ET, the lunar lander made landfall as part of NASA’s Artemis programme and Commercial Lunar Payload Services project.

The equipment’s communication was lost, despite the fact that it was thought the lander was on the moon.

The lander’s communication was lost during landing, thus the crew had to utilise a dish in the United Kingdom to receive that signal.

After about fifteen minutes, a weak signal was found.

Mission Director Tim Crain told the team, “We’re not dead yet,” and then revealed that the equipment was on the moon’s surface and broadcasting.

Soon after one in the morning on February 15, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the Houston-based company’s Nova-C lander, also known as Odysseus, from Florida. The rocket was launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral. The launch occurred as a result of a lunar lander from Astrobotic Technologies that failed to reach the moon in January due to propulsion issues.

Since entering orbit on Wednesday, the unmanned spacecraft has been circling the moon at a height of about 57 miles above the surface. The company told Reuters that the spacecraft has remained “in excellent health” while travelling approximately 239,000 miles from Earth, sending flight data and images of the moon to Intuitive Machines’ mission control centre in Houston.

The instruments that are included on the spacecraft “will conduct scientific research and demonstrate technologies to help us better understand the Moon’s environment and improve landing precision and safety in the challenging conditions of the lunar south polar region, paving the way for future Artemis astronaut missions.” 

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