Historic Odysseus mission ends as first privately-led lunar lander fails to reconnect

The mission came to an end as the spacecraft ceased communication after entering a power-saving standby mode during the lunar night.

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Courtesy: X/@Int_Machines

The first privately-led space venture to land on the Moon, Houston-based company Intuitive Machines' historic Odysseus mission has concluded its journey as the spacecraft enters a permanent sleep mode.

Odysseus made headlines when it successfully touched down on the lunar surface on February 22, marking a historical milestone in private space exploration. However, the mission came to an end as the spacecraft ceased communication after entering a power-saving standby mode during the lunar night.

No response from Odysseus

The lunar night, which lasted approximately two weeks, began after seven Earth days of Odysseus' operations on the Moon's surface. Engineers at Intuitive Machines had hoped the lander would awaken once sunlight returned during lunar daybreak. Despite ongoing efforts to re-establish contact, the company announced on Sunday that Odysseus had remained silent indefinitely.

In a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter, the company confirmed Odysseus' permanent shutdown, acknowledging its legacy as the first commercial lunar lander to achieve a successful Moon landing.

Collaboration with NASA

The Odysseus mission was part of NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative, which collaborates with private firms to deliver equipment and technology to the Moon. NASA's Artemis program, aimed at establishing a sustained human presence on the Moon, represents a shift toward long-term lunar exploration and utilization.

A step towards lunar economy

Initiatives such as CLPS and the US Department of Defense's Luna10 plan envision the development of a 'lunar economy,' leveraging the Moon's strategic position and resources to facilitate missions to distant parts of the solar system. The Moon holds potential as a crucial staging ground for future space endeavors, which offers opportunities for scientific research and economic expansion beyond Earth's orbit.