US moon lander Odysseus goes silent after landing setback

After landing on the Moon on February 22, the Odysseus lander, crafted by private company Intuitive Machines, faced a setback when it broke a leg and tipped onto its side. Despite this, the spacecraft continued communication with its controllers for a longer duration than anticipated, maintaining contact even after power-gathering issues arose due to its tilted position. However, on a recent Thursday, Odysseus fell silent, sending a final photo before entering standby mode in the hope of reactivating in the coming weeks, provided it survives the lunar night’s cold temperatures.

Intuitive Machines spokesperson Josh Marshall explained that the lander’s batteries were depleted during these final steps, placing Odysseus into what the company humorously termed a “long nap.” Expressing a hopeful sentiment, the company bid farewell to the lander, stating, “Good night, Odie. We hope to hear from you again,” via X, formerly known as Twitter.

Originally designed for a week-long mission on the moon, Odysseus carried six experiments for NASA, which invested $118 million in the project. Despite the current uncertainty, Intuitive Machines’ successful moon landing distinguished it as the first private entity to achieve this without crashing, marking a significant milestone in the space exploration arena. NASA considers such private ventures as precursors to human missions scheduled to arrive on the moon in the coming years, with Odysseus playing a crucial role in paving the way for future lunar exploration. Prior to this, the last U.S. moon landing occurred in 1972 by Apollo 17’s Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt.