WENT SIDEWAYS: Odysseus Lunar Lander Tipped Over on Touchdown and It’s Resting on Its Side – Intuitive Machine Says Spacecraft Is ‘Alive and Well’, Will Perform Missions

Odysseus has reached the moon surface in a feat worthy of the old mythology books – but like those age-old sagas, many perils and obstacles had to be conquered.

In the case of the Nova-C lunar lander, it now has surfaced that it may have tripped during touchdown, and it’s believed to be now tipped over, resting on its side with its ‘head’ resting on a rock.

One can almost look at it like a ‘new trend’ in space exploration, after the equally historic Japanese SLIM moon lander ended up upside down in the moon surface, and was still able to perform many of its prepared missions.

Houston-based Intuitive Machines has assured us that the moon lander is ‘alive and well’, a day after its ‘white-knuckle touchdown’ as the first private spacecraft ever to reach the lunar surface – and the first from the U.S. since 1972.

They revealed a human error led to a failure of the spacecraft’s laser-based range finders. Engineers detected the glitch by chance hours before landing time, and they improvised an ’emergency fix’ that saved the mission from a probable crash.

Reuters reported:

“Although the Odysseus made it to the surface intact on Thursday, analysis of data by flight engineers showed the six-legged craft apparently tripped over its own feet as it neared the end of its final descent, company officials said at a briefing the next day.

The spacecraft is believed to have caught one of its landing feet on the uneven lunar surface and tipped over, coming to rest sideways, propped up on a rock at one end, said CEO Stephen Altemus, whose company built and flew the lander.”

Odysseus ‘is stable near or at our intended landing site’, close to a crater called Malapert A in the region of the moon’s south pole, Altemus told reporters.

“‘We do have communications with the lander’, and mission control operators are sending commands to the vehicle, Altemus said, adding that they were working to obtain the first photo images from the lunar surface from the landing site. A brief mission status report posted to the company’s website earlier on Friday described Odysseus ‘alive and well’.”

All but one of its six NASA science and technology payloads are mounted on portions of the vehicle left exposed and receptive to communications, but two antennae were left pointed at the surface, which will limit communications with the lander.

One solar energy panel on the top of Odysseus is now facing the wrong way, but a second array on the side of the spacecraft is in working order, and the spacecraft’s batteries had been fully charged.

“The uncrewed robot spacecraft reached the lunar surface on Thursday after a nail-biting final approach and descent in which a problem with its navigation system surfaced, requiring flight controllers on the ground to employ an untested work-around to avoid what could have been a catastrophic crash landing.

[…] Crain said the spacecraft, burning a propulsion fuel of liquid methane and liquid oxygen for the first time in space, “performed flawlessly” during its seven-day flight to and in orbit around the moon.”

The payloads aboard the lander are expected to operate for about nine or 10 days, after which sun will have set on the polar landing site.

BBC reported:

“Steve Altemus, the CEO and co-founder of IM, said it wasn’t totally clear what had happened but the data suggested the robot caught a foot on the surface and then fell because it still had some lateral motion at the moment of landing.

Another possibility is that Odysseus broke a leg as it came down. Certainly, inertial measurement sensors indicate the body of the vehicle to be in a horizontal pose.

[…] ‘We’re hopeful to get pictures and really do an assessment of the structure and assessment of all the external equipment’, Mr Altemus told reporters. ‘So far, we have quite a bit of operational capability even though we’re tipped over. And so that’s really exciting for us, and we are continuing the surface operations mission as a result of it’.”

A US satellite called the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will search for Odysseus this weekend, to confirm its whereabouts.

“‘Once the Sun sets on ‘Oddie’, the batteries will attempt to keep the vehicle warm and alive but eventually it’ll fall into a deep cold and then the electronics that we produce just won’t survive the deep cold of lunar night. And so, best case scenario, we’re looking at another nine to 10 days (of operations)’, said Tim Crain, IM’s CTO and co-founder.”

Read more:

Over the Moon: Indian PM Narendra Modi Celebrates ‘Fall of Bastille’ With France’s Macron, While Chandrayaan-3 Mission Takes off for Lunar Landing That Can Establish India as a Major Space Power


The post WENT SIDEWAYS: Odysseus Lunar Lander Tipped Over on Touchdown and It’s Resting on Its Side – Intuitive Machine Says Spacecraft Is ‘Alive and Well’, Will Perform Missions appeared first on The Gateway Pundit.

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