Moon mission: US spacecraft Odysseus broke its leg in sideways landing

Intuitive Machines says lander is still working but is expected to lose power soon

Images show that the Odysseus broke one of its legs after a sideways landing on the lunar surface. Photo: Intuitive Machines
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A privately owned US spacecraft broke its leg as it landed on the Moon last week, it has been revealed.

The Odysseus, which was to operate on the Moon for seven to 10 days, ended its mission on Tuesday after five days due to the sideways landing.

Intuitive Machines, the company behind the mission, revealed in photos published on Friday that the spacecraft broke one of its legs when it landed.

The company said that the lander approached the lunar surface at high speed, slid, and turned on its side as it landed near the south pole of the Moon last Thursday, which led to the near exhaustion of power.

Steve Altimus, chief executive of Intuitive Machines, said that the lander was still working and generating energy but expected to lose power soon.

"When the end comes, we will wait two to three weeks, and once the lunar night is over we can try to restore communication," he said.

Tim Crain, the spacecraft's mission director, said it was uncertain whether Odysseus would work or not, since the extreme cold of the lunar night might lead to the collapse of electronic devices and damage to the batteries.

"The lunar night is not a joke. Imagine that you left your favourite electronic devices outside for 14 nights in Antarctica," he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Despite its sideways touchdown, the mission became the US's first Moon landing in more than 50 years and was part of a new fleet of Nasa-funded unmanned commercial craft intended to pave the way for astronaut missions later this decade.

Odysseus launched on February 15 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and has a new type of propulsion system comprising supercooled liquid oxygen and liquid methane that allowed it to race through space in quick time.

Nasa hopes to eventually build a long-term presence and harvest ice on the Moon for both drinking water and rocket fuel under Artemis, its flagship Moon-to-Mars programme.

Watch: Commercial craft completes first US Moon landing in more than 50 years

Commercial craft completes first US Moon landing in more than 50 years

Commercial craft completes first US Moon landing in more than 50 years
Updated: March 05, 2024, 10:51 AM