The Odyssey module fell on its side when landing on the Moon, but, according to the company, it is “alive and well” | The science

Odysseus “He’s alive and well.” Intuitive Machines published the report this Friday, but the need to insist on it, coupled with the lack of photographs and other evidence of the lander’s condition, indicated that something was wrong. Finally, the company’s CEO, Steve Altemus, admitted that the device “caught its foot on a surface, tilted” and landed on its side. This is the first time a private company has managed to land a vehicle on the Moon. The mission also marked the United States’ return to satellite, half a century after the Apollo program. It was a historic success, but something less.

During the moon landing there had already been a long wait, a sign that something was wrong. Despite this, the company claimed victory and this Friday assured that flight controllers are communicating and ordering the ship’s device to download scientific data, and the lander has good telemetry and solar charging. Altemus began the press conference in Houston by announcing the success of the mission and the accomplishments it entails. Then a problem arose. Very clearly, he took a model of the Odyssey and illustrated how, in his opinion, the module turned over when landing on the Moon.

“Lander Odysseus landed yesterday at 5:24 a.m. Central Time, making a stable and controlled landing, as well as a soft and safe landing,” he began. “It’s pretty incredible. It was quite an exciting seven-day mission to the moon. (…) The device is stable, near or on the planned landing site. We have communications with the lander through large radio astronomy antennas around the world that are part of our lunar telemetry network, and with the spacecraft through several antennas and two radios. To begin with, it’s phenomenal,” he said.

He explained that NASA and the company are trying to obtain photographs. “I know everyone is coveting those surface photos, but we have some interesting data that gives us an idea of ​​where the lander is, and I’ll explain that in a moment. The sun hits the solar panels and charges our batteries. We are powering the spacecraft and are 100% charged. “This is fantastic,” he continued.

In this video image provided by NASA, Steve Altemus, CEO and co-founder of Intuitive Machines, describes how the company’s supposed Odyssey spacecraft landed on the lunar surface during a press conference in Houston on Friday, February. 23, 2024.AP

But usually there is a but. “If you go back to the Apollo era, no mission was absolutely perfect, so you have to adapt. You have to be innovative and persistent, and we persisted until the last moment to ensure this soft landing happened the way we wanted. Let me talk briefly about the slope of the surface.” At this point he took out a model of a hexagonal prism and showed how, apparently, while descending and moving sideways, it tripped over one of its supporting legs on the rock and toppled over. “We believe this is the orientation surface of the lunar lander,” he said, holding the model horizontally, although he assured that it had not spoiled the mission and that some of the planned experiments were already underway.

“Just to clear up some confusion, yesterday we thought we were upright,” he said, noting that gravity telemetry from the fuel tanks seemed to indicate that. However, apparently, these were residual quantities and new, more accurate telemetry indicates that the module was stale. “Hopefully we’ll get an image this weekend and share it,” he concluded.

The craft landed in a dangerous area for landing on the Moon, full of craters and rocks, but considered very valuable because these permanently shadowed craters are believed to contain frozen water, near the Malapert A crater, 260 kilometers from the south pole of the Moon. . . The crater is named after the 17th century Belgian astronomer Charles Malapert. There, close to where India has already successfully landed, the giant water ice resources are expected to be harnessed for future space exploration. Astronauts visiting the Moon in the future could use the ice in these craters to obtain drinking water, oxygen and even fuel. Previous US missions have reached the equatorial regions of the Moon.

A module recently shipped from Japan had a similar problem. When landing on the Moon, it flipped over and came to rest on its side. The problem in this case is that he was unable to take advantage of his solar panels and was left inoperable, without power. Odysseus, On the other hand, according to the company, it is “alive and well”, and this allows the payload to be used for planned tests.

One of NASA’s experiments was launched when the lander’s navigation system failed in the final hours before landing. The module completed an extra orbit around the Moon to make a last-minute switch to NASA’s new laser system.

Another experiment, a cube with four cameras, had to take off 30 seconds before landing to capture the landing. Odysseus. But Embry-Riddle Aeronautics University’s EagleCam was intentionally disabled during the final descent due to a navigation switch and remained attached to the lander. Troy Henderson of Embry-Riddle said his team will try to free EagleCam in the coming days so it can photograph the lander from about 25 feet away.

In the face of continued uncertainty regarding the situation Odysseus On the Moon, “getting the final image of the lander on the surface is still an incredibly important goal for us,” Henderson told The Associated Press.

After skyrocketing in the stock market with this Thursday’s moon landing, shares of Intuitive Machines fell sharply this Friday outside regular trading hours, falling more than 30% as it became known that not all was going well.

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