Moon lander tilts sideways on lunar surface, but 'alive and well'

The moon lander, known as Odysseus, is “alive and well” but resting on its side a day after its white-knuckle touchdown, the first private spacecraft to reach the lunar surface and the first from the United States since 1972. Friday said.

The vehicle is believed to have caught one of its six landing legs on the lunar surface at the end of its final descent, tilted, came to rest sideways and rested on a rock, flight engineers' analysis of the data shows. Houston-based Intuitive Machines.

However, near the crater Malabert A on the moon's south pole, Odysseus has all the signs that “we are stable at or near our landing site,” said Intuitive Engines CEO Stephen Altemus. Lander.

“We're in communication with the lander,” and mission control operators are sending commands to the vehicle, Altemus said, adding that they are working to get the first photographic images of the lunar surface from the landing site.

A brief update on the status of the mission posted on the company's website on Friday described Odysseus as “alive and well”.

Shortly after Thursday's touchdown, radio signals indicated that Odysseus, a 13-foot-tall hexagonal cylinder, had landed in an upright position, but Atlemus said that was a false conclusion based on telemetry before landing.

Although the lander's horizontal position wasn't ideal, all but one of the six NASA science and technology payloads were attached to parts of the vehicle and acceptable for communications, which is great for us, Altemus said. .

“We think we can meet all the needs of commercial payloads,” he added.

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Less promising is that the spacecraft's two antennas are pointed at the surface, a situation that limits communications with the lander, Altemus said.

The operation of a solar energy panel on top of Odysseus, now facing the wrong way, is uncertain, but a second array on the side of the spacecraft appears to be functional, and the spacecraft's batteries are fully charged. said.

Intuitive Engines mission director Tim Crain said the spacecraft, which is the first in space to burn a propellant fuel of liquid methane and liquid oxygen, performed “flawlessly” during its flight to the moon.

After a nail-biting final approach and descent, the rover reached the lunar surface on Thursday, where a problem with the lander's navigation system arose, forcing engineers on the ground to perform untested work at the 11th hour.

It took some time after the expected radio blackout to re-establish communications with the spacecraft and determine its fate at about 239,000 miles (384,000 km) from Earth.

When contact was finally renewed, the signal was faint, confirming that the lander had touched down, but leaving mission control immediately uncertain about the vehicle's precise position and position, company officials said during a webcast of the event Thursday evening.

Crain said he believes the payloads on the lander will be able to operate for about nine or 10 days, after which the sun will set on the polar landing site.

Shares of Intuitive Machines fell 30% in extended trading on Friday, wiping out all of their rally in Friday's market session, after the company said its moon lander had tilted.

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