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First US lunar lander in half a century stops working a week after tipping over on landing



The first U.S. spacecraft to land on the Moon since the Apollo astronauts went silent Thursday, a week after breaking a leg on landing and overturning near the lunar south pole.

Intuitive Machines’ lander, Odysseus, lasted longer than expected after ending up on its own with hampered solar power and communication.

The end came when flight controllers received a final photo from Odysseus and ordered his computer and power systems to sleep. This way, the lander can wake up in two to three weeks – if it survives the freezing lunar night. Intuitive Machines spokesman Josh Marshall said these final steps drained the lander’s batteries and put Odysseus “for a long nap.”

“Good night, Odie. We look forward to hearing from you,” the company said via X, formerly Twitter.

Before losing power, Odysseus sent back what Intuitive Machines called “a fitting farewell transmission.”

Taken just before landing, the photo shows the bottom of the lander on the Moon’s pockmarked surface, with a small crescent Earth and a small sun in the background.

The lander was initially planned to stay on the Moon for about a week.

Houston-based Intuitive Machines became the first private company to land a spacecraft on the Moon without crashing when Odysseus landed on February 22. Only five countries have achieved this since the 1960s, including Japan, which made a sideways landing last month.

Ulysses performed six experiments for NASA, which paid $118 million for the trip. The first company to participate in NASA’s commercial lunar delivery program never reached the Moon; its lander crashed back to Earth in January.

NASA views these private landers as pathfinders that will pave the way for astronauts expected to arrive in a few years.

Until Ulysses, the last American moon landing was by Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt of Apollo 17 in 1972.


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