Intuitive Machines 1 Mission IM1 US Returns Moon For First Time In 50 Years Odysseus NOVA C Lands Lunar South Pole NASA Payloads SpaceX

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Intuitive Machines 1 Mission: The United States has returned to the Moon for the first time in 50 years. On February 23, 2024, Texas-based aerospace firm Intuitive Machine’s Odysseus Moon lander, also known as NOVA-C, was placed at the Malapert A crater near the lunar south pole. The mission, called Intuitive Machines 1 Mission (IM-1), also marks the first time a commercial lander has landed on the Moon. Intuitive Machines wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that initially, flight controllers had perform troubleshooting to restore communications. It has been confirmed with Odysseus is standing upright and sending data.

Odysseus, launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on February 15, 2024, reached the Moon in eight days. It made a soft landing on the lunar south pole, making the US the second country to reach that region, after India, which successfully soft-landed Chandrayaan-3 on August 23, 2023.

The Odysseus Moon lander carried five NASA payloads, and commercial cargo.

NASA selected Intuitive Machines to build a lander as part of the space agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services Initiative (CLPS), in which a commercial firm receives a contract. 

All about IM-1 mission

Odysseus’s payloads will study interactions between the lunar surface and plumes, which are clouds of gas. They will also perform radio astronomy experiments, and study how the lunar surface interacts with the space weather. 

Odysseus will also demonstrate precision landing technologies, and exhibit communication and navigation mode capabilities. 

First, Odysseus was placed into an Earth orbit of size 185 kilometres x 60,000 kilometres. After this, translunar injection occurred. Following this, a manoeuvre placed Odysseus into a 100-kilometre lunar orbit. 

Odysseus will have a mission life of 14 Earth days, in the presence of sunlight. 

It has a length of four metres, a width of 1.57 metres, and a lift-off mass of 1,908 kilograms. With six standing legs, Odysseus is capable of carrying up to 100 kilograms of payload to the lunar surface. 

The lander is equipped with solar panels which will allow it to generate 200 Watts of power on the lunar surface. 

The main engine, placed at the bottom of Odysseus, required a force of 3,100 Newtons to fire up before landing on the Moon. It used liquid methane as fuel, and liquid oxygen as oxidiser.

The IM-1 mission was the 18th flight of the first stage booster of the Falcon 9 rocket.

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