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How the first private moon landing failed almost shortly before the destination

2024-02-24T04:42:27.269Z

Highlights: How the first private moon landing failed almost shortly before the destination. As of: February 24, 2024, 5:27 a.m By: Tanja Banner CommentsPressSplit The successful moon landing of the “Odysseus” space probe marks a milestone in space travel. But the path there was anything but easy. The first sign of trouble was the sudden postponement of the planned landing time by two hours. It later became clear in the landing live stream from Intuitive Machines that a system of lasers and cameras that was supposed to help the probe land safely on the moon was not working.



As of: February 24, 2024, 5:27 a.m

By: Tanja Banner

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The successful moon landing of the “Odysseus” space probe marks a milestone in space travel.

But the path there was anything but easy.

Houston - Even more than half a century after NASA's "Apollo" missions, landing on the moon remains a difficult affair.

This is clear not only from the numerous failed attempts in recent years and months, but also from the recent successful moon landing of the “Odysseus” space probe from Intuitive Machines.

This could have failed shortly before the finish.

The first private moon landing almost failed due to a failed system

The first sign of trouble was the sudden postponement of the planned landing time by two hours.

Intuitive Machines announced on X (formerly Twitter) that they wanted to orbit the moon one more time before landing.

It seemed like something was wrong.

It later became clear in the landing live stream from Intuitive Machines and NASA that a system of lasers and cameras that was supposed to help “Odysseus” land safely on the moon was not working.

In order to gain time and solve the problem, it was decided to orbit the moon longer than planned.

Fortunately, “Odysseus” was equipped with a NASA experiment that could serve as a replacement for the failed system.

The NDL (Navigation Doppler Lidar for Precise Velocity and Range Sensing) experiment was originally designed as a technical demonstration and was intended to be tested on the moon landing with a view to possibly being used in future NASA moon landings.

“We didn't plan to use it for the actual mission, but now we do,” Nasa quoted employee Prasun Desai on to deliver,” says Desai.

NASA instrument helped save moon landing

Without the NASA instrument, the space probe probably would not have landed safely on the moon.

The failed instrument was responsible for navigation on the site.

It was intended to take images of the lunar surface and compare them with the known lunar topography to determine the location.

In addition, during the descent to the moon, the instrument should detect hazards such as large boulders to find a safe landing site.

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Tension remained high even after the implementation of the NASA experiment.

After the supposed landing of “Odysseus” there was initially no contact with the probe.

This is normal, but it quickly became a test of patience, especially since Intuitive Machines had previously announced that it might be able to confirm landing after just 15 seconds.

It took a full ten minutes for mission director Tim Crain to announce that a weak signal was being received from “Odysseus.”

“We’re not dead yet,” said Crain, one of the founders of Intuitive Machines.

It should look something like this on the moon: The “Odysseus” space probe from the private US company Intuitive Machines has landed on the moon and is supposed to stand upright and transmit data.

(Artist's impression) © IMAGO/Intuitive Machines

“'Odysseus' has a new home” – at the south pole of the moon

A few minutes later, Crain added: "'Odysseus' has a new home" - and cheers erupted in the control room.

But the signal from the moon remained weak.

Did the lander tip over, as happened to the Japanese space probe “Slim” just in January?

It was only two hours later that it became clear: “Odysseus” is standing upright on the lunar surface and sending data to Earth.

The landing was a complete success, making Intuitive Machines the first commercial company to land on the Moon.

But NASA also has reason to celebrate: not only that the small technology experiment NDL saved the first US moon landing since 1972, but also that a risk has paid off.

NASA was largely responsible for the fact that there are private flights to the moon.

As part of the CLPS program, it finances the development of space probes that will later transport material to the moon for NASA and other customers.

Further missions from this program are planned for 2024.

Among other things, Intuitive Machines is set to head to the moon again.

Among other things, a NASA drilling experiment will be on board.

The US company Astrobotic, whose moon landing failed in January, is also scheduled to launch to the moon again in 2024.

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Source: merkur

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