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24 May, 2024
 
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US lander lands on moon, giant leap for humanity

Lander marks US lunar return after 50 years

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In a groundbreaking achievement, the Odysseus lander, owned by Intuitive Machines, successfully landed on the moon's surface, marking the first privately owned craft to accomplish this feat.

According to a report on Sky News, the event, described as "nail-biting" due to the tense descent, witnessed jubilant cheers in the Houston control room as confirmation of the landing came through after a brief period of suspense.

Intuitive Machines' accomplishment also signifies the first US-led lunar landing in over 50 years, following NASA's Apollo program conclusion in 1972. Steve Altemus, CEO of Intuitive Machines, expressed relief and excitement, stating, "I know this was a nail-biter, but we are on the surface, and we are transmitting. Welcome to the moon."

The 14-ft tall, six-footed carbon fiber and titanium lander navigated its way from a moon-skimming orbit to a relatively flat landing spot near the south pole, amidst cliffs and craters. Meanwhile, back on Earth, the team anxiously awaited confirmation of the successful touchdown well past the anticipated time.

The Odysseus lander was launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the previous week, marking a significant milestone in private space exploration. The last US lunar descent occurred in 1972 during Apollo 17, making Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt the last humans to have set foot on the moon.

NASA administrator Bill Nelson hailed the mission as a "triumph" and a "giant leap forward for all of humanity." He emphasized the historic nature of the achievement, highlighting the return of the US to lunar exploration and the pioneering role of American companies in space endeavors.

NASA, the primary sponsor of the mission, invested $118 million to facilitate experiments aboard Odysseus, with the goal of potentially sending astronauts back to the moon later in the decade. The agency aims to establish lunar missions as routine and eventually establish a lunar base.

Odysseus, carrying payloads from six other commercial companies, landed closer to the moon's south pole than any previous craft, offering scientists the opportunity to explore regions rich in craters and potentially ice deposits. The discovery of ice or permafrost could provide crucial resources for future lunar missions, enabling extended stays for astronauts.

Intuitive Machines' successful lunar landing adds to a series of recent attempts by various countries and private entities to explore and capitalize on the moon's resources. Japan's recent landing, alongside previous missions by the US, Russia, China, and India, underscores the growing interest and investment in lunar exploration.

[With information sourced from Sky News]

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Cyprus  |  space  |  moon  |  US  |  NASA

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