The ‘Odysseus’ module fell on its side while landing on the Moon, but is “alive and well” according to the company. Science

,Odysseus “It’s alive and well.” The company Intuitive Machines launched that message this Friday, but the need to emphasize it and the lack of photographs and other evidence about the lander’s condition indicated that something was not quite right. Ultimately, the company’s CEO, Steve Altemus, admitted that the device “found its foot on the surface, tilted” and fell on its side. This is the first time that a private company has managed to land an instrument on the Moon. The mission also marked the United States’ return to satellite after half a century of the Apollo program. It has been a historic success, but little else.

At the time of the Moon landing, there was already a long wait leading to speculation that something was wrong. Nevertheless, the company claimed victory and assured this Friday that flight controllers communicate and command vehicle instruments to download scientific data and that the lander has good telemetry and solar charging. Altemus began the press conference in Houston announcing the success of the mission and its associated achievements. Then, the problem has come. Very graphically, he has taken a model of Odysseus and depicted how he believes the module overturned during the moon landing.

“Lander Odysseus Landed yesterday at 5:24 Central Time with a stable and controlled landing and a soft and safe landing,” he began. “It is so incredible. This seven-day mission to the Moon was quite exciting. (…) The device is stationary or near our planned landing site. We have communications with the lander, from large radio astronomy antennas around the world that are part of our lunar telemetry network, and from multiple antennas and two radios with the spacecraft. For starters, it’s unprecedented,” he said.

He told that NASA and the company are trying to take pictures. “I know everyone is hungry for those surface photos, but we have some interesting data that gives us a sense of where the lander is, and I’ll explain that in a moment. We have sun rays falling on solar panels and charging our batteries. We are providing power to the spacecraft and are at 100% charge. “It’s fantastic,” he added.

In this video image provided by NASA, Steve Altemus, CEO and co-founder of Intuitive Machines, explains how the company’s ‘Odysseus’ spacecraft landed on the surface of the moon during a press conference in Houston on Friday, Feb. . 23, 2024.AP

But there’s usually a but. “If you go back to the Apollo era, no mission was perfect, so you had to be adaptable. You have to be innovative and you have to be tenacious, and we stuck with it until the last minute to make sure this soft landing was exactly how we wanted it to be. Let me talk briefly about surface tilt.” At that moment he took out the model of the hexagonal prism and showed how, apparently, while descending and moving sideways, it slipped on one of its support legs on a rock and overturned. Holding the model horizontally, he said, “We believe this is the orientation surface of the lander on the Moon,” although he assured that this had not doomed the mission and that some of the planned experiments were already being carried out. Cape.

“Just to clear up some confusion: yesterday we thought we were in a vertical position,” he said, adding that gravity telemetry on the fuel tank indicated so. Apparently, however, these were residual quantities and new, more accurate telemetry indicates that the module is lying beneath. “I hope we get an image here later this week and share it,” he concluded.

The instrument landed in a dangerous area for a lunar landing, filled with craters and rocks, but it is considered to be of high value, as it is believed that these permanently shadowed craters lie 260 km from the Moon’s south pole. There is frozen water near the Malapert A crater, kilometers away. …This crater is named in honor of 17th century Belgian astronomer Charles Malapert. There, where India has already successfully landed, it intends to harness the vast resource of water ice for future space exploration. Future astronauts visiting the Moon could use the ice of these craters for drinking water, oxygen and even fuel. Previous American missions had reached equatorial lunar regions.

Recently a module shipped from Japan had a similar problem. While landing on the Moon, it overturned and stopped on its edge. In that case, the problem is that it could not take advantage of its solar panels and remained idle without energy. Odysseus, On the other hand, according to the company, it is “alive and healthy”, and this allows the payload to be used to carry out the planned tests.

A NASA experiment was launched when the lander’s navigation system failed in the final hours before touchdown. The module made an additional orbit around the Moon so it could switch to NASA’s new laser system at the last minute.

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

With continued uncertainty over the status of Odysseus “On the Moon, getting the final image of the lander on the surface is still an incredibly important task for us,” Henderson told The Associated Press.

After skyrocketing in the stock market with the moon landing this Thursday, shares of Intuitive Machines fell by more than 30% outside normal trading hours this Friday, when it was revealed that not everything had gone well .

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