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US makes 1st lunar landing in over 50 yrs

Los Angeles, Feb 23 2024-

US company Intuitive Machines’ first lunar lander touched down on the moon early Friday morning, marking the first American spacecraft to land on the lunar surface in more than 50 years.

The uncrewed lander, named Odysseus, landed at the lunar South Pole on Thursday at 6.23 p.m. Eastern Time (4.53 a.m. India time), according to NASA.

Odysseus carries NASA science and other commercial payloads to the moon.

The spacecraft was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Thursday last week from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The mission, codenamed IM-1, marks Intuitive Machines’ first robotic flight to the moon’s surface, Xinhua news agency reported.

The scientific objectives of the mission include studies of plume-surface interactions, radio astronomy, and space weather interactions with the lunar surface.

It will also demonstrate precision landing technologies and communication and navigation node capabilities, according to NASA.

NASA is working with several US companies to deliver science and technology to the lunar surface through the Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative.

The last US moon landing mission was made in December 1972, when Apollo 17 touched down on the lunar surface for the final mission of the Apollo Programme.

In January, another NASA-backed company, Astrobiotic Technology’s lunar lander suffered “critical” fuel loss and could not make it to the Moon.

The lander carries six NASA instruments that will investigate the lunar environment and test technologies for future Artemis missions. (Agency)

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