Moon lander Odysseus tipped sideways on lunar surface but 'alive and well' |

NEW DELHI: The Houston-based company Intuitive Machines confirmed that the moon lander, Odysseus, is “alive and well” but resting on its side following its historic touchdown on the lunar surface. The spacecraft made headlines as the first private spacecraft to reach the moon and the first from the US since 1972.
The unexpected twist in Odysseus’s journey was revealed by the CEO, Stephen Altemus, who explained that a human error led to the failure of the spacecraft’s laser-based range finders.Engineers detected the glitch by chance just hours before the scheduled landing time. In a remarkable display of ingenuity, an emergency fix was improvised, saving the mission from a potential crash.
Although the analysis of data indicated that Odysseus tripped over its own feet during the final descent, causing it to land on its side, the spacecraft is reported to be stable near or at the intended landing site, close to the lunar crater Malapert A in the south pole region.
Intuitive Machines assured that communication with the lander is ongoing, and commands are being sent from mission control operators. The company aims to obtain the first photo images from the lunar surface at the landing site.
Despite the less-than-ideal sideways position, company officials emphasized that the majority of the six Nasa science and technology payloads on Odysseus are exposed and receptive to communications. However, two antennae pointed at the surface may limit communication and the functionality of a solar energy panel is uncertain due to its wrong orientation.
The uncrewed robot spacecraft faced a nail-biting final approach and descent, during which a navigation system problem surfaced. Flight controllers on the ground had to employ an untested workaround to avoid a potential crash landing.
The glitch in the laser-powered range finders was attributed to a safety switch oversight by engineers at Nasa’s Kennedy Space Center, who failed to unlock it before the launch. This error was only detected by chance a week later during lunar orbit troubleshooting.
To overcome the safety lock, engineers had to write software directing the lander to rely on an experimental Nasa Lidar payload—an alternative solution that proved successful but was employed under extreme duress.
Despite the challenges, mission director Tim Crain commended the flawless performance of Odysseus during its seven-day flight and orbit around the moon. The condition and position of the lander were initially uncertain after the landing, but communication has been established, and the payloads are expected to operate for approximately nine or 10 days.
Intuitive Machines’ shares took a hit in extended trade, tumbling 30%, erasing the gains made during the market session after the announcement of Odysseus’s sideways landing.
(With agency inputs)

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By jaghit

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