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Intuitive Machines Is Hoping to Be the First Personal Firm to Land on the Moon

Intuitive Machines Is Hoping to Be the First Personal Firm to Land on the Moon

Landing on the moon is no easy feat, but another private company is giving it a shot this week.

Intuitive Machines is planning to launch its spacecraft to the lunar surface early Wednesday morning, in the hopes of completing the first U.S. soft landing since the last Apollo mission in 1972, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday. If its efforts are successful, the Houston-based company will also become the first to put a commercial spacecraft on the moon.

“By advancing our capabilities to operate on the lunar surface, the mission sets the stage for more ambitious endeavors, including the establishment of lunar bases and the exploration of potential resources,” Intuitive Machines said in a statement.

Odysseus, the company’s craft, could take off as early as 12:57 a.m. eastern time on Wednesday, with the moon landing occurring nine days later. It will head to space on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, eventually separating from the rocket and—hopefully—landing near the moon’s south pole. On board, Odysseus is carrying several scientific payloads from NASA, which is giving Intuitive Machines $118 million to bring them to the lunar surface.

The government agency has been working on returning astronauts to the moon as part of the $2.6 billion Artemis program. However, that effort has gotten off to a rough start: Last month, Astrobotic Technology tried to send its spacecraft to the lunar surface, but it suffered a fuel leak and was unable to complete its mission. And shortly thereafter, NASA said that two of its flights would be delayed until September 2025 and September 2026 at the earliest.

Intuitive Machines, though, has been feeling pretty good about its prospects with Odysseus. “The vehicle is ready,” Stephen Altemus, the company’s CEO, told the Post in October. “It’s performing wonderfully. … We know the odds of what we’re up against. We’ve done extensive testing beyond development testing, to make sure that the vehicle is performing as designed. And we’re confident coming out of our reviews that we’ve hammered all those issues flat and that we know how the vehicle behaves.”

Of course, space is unpredictable, and even the best-laid plans can go awry. Intuitive Machines is hoping that Odysseus can weather whatever storms may be awaiting it in the great unknown. And beginning tomorrow, we’ll see what the lander can do.

Source: Robb Report

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