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US makes first moon landing in 50 years

US makes first moon landing in 50 years


Intuitive Machine has become the first private company to land the spacecraft Odysseus on moon

The image shows Intuitive Machine’s uncrewed Odysseus making its way to the moon. — X/@NASA

A spacecraft owned and operated by the Texas-based company, Intuitive Machines, made a landing close to the moon’s south pole on Thursday, the first American touchdown on the moon in almost 50 years and the first-ever by a private company, Reuters reported.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) celebrated the landing as a significant step towards its objective of deploying a group of commercial spacecraft on scientific reconnaissance missions to the moon before humans are expected to return there later this decade.

Following Thursday’s landing, there were initial communication issues that prompted concerns about whether the unmanned, six-legged robot lander known as Odysseus had been damaged or blocked in any way. 

The landing completed a suspenseful final approach and descent, during which an issue with the spacecraft’s autonomous navigation system arose.

In addition, it took some time to establish contact with the spacecraft again and learn its fate following an expected radio blackout that occurred some 239,000 miles from Earth.

When contact was finally renewed, the signal was faint, confirming that the lander had touched down but leaving mission control immediately uncertain as to the precise condition and orientation of the vehicle, according to the webcast.

“Our equipment is on the surface of the moon, and we are transmitting, so congratulations, IM team,” Intuitive Machines Mission Director Tim Crain was heard telling the operations centre. 

“We’ll see what more we can get from that.”


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