Odysseus makes history as first US moon lander since 1972 despite glitches


Cape Canaveral: A private company of America, Intuitive Machines, has achieved a historic milestone by landing its robotic lander, Odysseus, on the surface of the moon on Thursday. It is the first US spacecraft to touch down on the lunar terrain since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

However, the landing was not without challenges. Odysseus faced a last-minute navigation sensor malfunction that altered its trajectory and delayed its arrival time. The lander also sent only a weak and brief signal after landing, leaving its condition and exact location uncertain.

The company, which built the spacecraft carrying the lander, confirmed that Odysseus had reached the moon, but did not reveal any further details. The live telecast of the lander was cut off as soon as the landing announcement was made.

Mission director Tim Crain said the team is working on how to interpret the only signal sent from the lander, which is named after the hero in Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. He said, “But we can confirm without doubt that our instrument is on the surface of the moon.”

The company’s Chief Executive Officer Steve Altemus said, “I know the path forward is not clear but we are on the surface, and receiving communication. Welcome to the Moon.”

Odysseus is a six-legged lander who targeted a landing site near a crater called Malapert A, close to the moon’s south pole. The South Pole region is of great interest to scientists and explorers, as it is thought to harbor large amounts of water ice that could be used for future missions.


The lander is carrying six NASA experiments that aim to collect more data about this little-explored area and test new technologies for lunar exploration. The lander also has some commercial and artistic payloads, such as a metallic jacket fabric, a cube of moon figurines, and a camera that will capture images of the lander’s descent.

Odysseus lifted off from Earth on February 15 on a SpaceX Falcon rocket and traveled 370,000 kilometers to reach the moon. It was scheduled to make a soft landing at 4:20 am Indian time on Friday morning, but due to a navigation glitch, it had to make an extra orbit around the moon, which pushed back its landing time to 4:30 am.

Despite the difficulties, Odysseus has made history as the first private spacecraft to land softly on the moon, and the first American spacecraft to do so in more than 50 years. It is also the first of several planned lunar landers that NASA hopes will pave the way for the return of humans to the moon under its Artemis program.