A Spacecraft Named Odysseus Will Launch to the Moon: How to Watch

A Spacecraft Named Odysseus Will Launch to the Moon: How to Watch

Another month, one other attempt on the moon.

A robotic lunar lander is scheduled to launch within the early morning hours of Wednesday. If all goes properly, it’ll change into the primary American spacecraft to set down softly on the moon’s floor for the reason that Apollo 17 moon touchdown in 1972.

It can be the most recent non-public effort to ship spacecraft to the moon. Earlier makes an attempt have all resulted in failure. But the corporate answerable for the most recent effort, Intuitive Machines of Houston, is optimistic.

“I really feel pretty assured that we’re going to achieve success softly touching down on the moon,” mentioned Stephen Altemus, the president and chief government of Intuitive Machines. “We’ve performed the testing. We’ve examined and examined and examined. As a lot testing as we might do.”

The Intuitive Machines lander, named Odysseus, is scheduled to launch at 12:57 a.m. Eastern on Wednesday on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The climate is anticipated to be near ideally suited, with solely a 5 p.c probability of situations that will prohibit launch.

SpaceX and NASA will stream protection of the launch starting at 12:15 a.m.

If a technical drawback or unhealthy climate delays the launch, backup launch alternatives are on Thursday and Friday.

If the launch happens this week, the touchdown might be on Feb. 22 close to a crater named Malapert A. (Malapert A is a satellite tv for pc crater of the bigger Malapert crater, which is called after Charles Malapert, a Seventeenth-century Belgian astronomer.)

Odysseus will enter orbit across the moon about 24 hours earlier than the touchdown try.

The touchdown web site, about 185 miles from the south pole on the close to facet of the moon, is comparatively flat, a neater location for a spacecraft to land. No American spacecraft has ever landed on the lunar south pole, which is a spotlight of many house companies and corporations as a result of it might be wealthy in frozen water.

Intuitive Machines calls its spacecraft design Nova-C and named this specific lander Odysseus. It is a hexagonal cylinder with six touchdown legs, about 14 ft tall and 5 ft large. Intuitive Machines factors out that the physique of the lander is roughly the dimensions of an previous British telephone sales space — that’s, just like the Tardis within the “Doctor Who” science fiction tv present.

At launch, with a full load of propellant, the lander weighs about 4,200 kilos.

NASA is the primary buyer for the Intuitive Machines flight; it’s paying the corporate $118 million to ship its payloads. NASA additionally spent an extra $11 million to develop and construct the six devices on the flight:

  • A laser retroreflector array to bounce again laser beams fired from Earth.

  • A LIDAR instrument to exactly measure the spacecraft’s altitude and velocity because it descends to the lunar floor.

  • A stereo digital camera to seize video of the plume of mud kicked up by the lander’s engines throughout touchdown.

  • A low-frequency radio receiver to measure the results of charged particles close to the lunar floor on radio indicators.

  • A beacon, Lunar Node-1, to reveal an autonomous navigation system.

  • An instrument within the propellant tank that’s to make use of radio waves to measure how a lot gas stays within the tank.

The lander can be carrying just a few different payloads, together with a digital camera constructed by college students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida; a precursor instrument for a future moon telescope; and an artwork challenge by Jeff Koons.

On Jan. 8, Astrobotic Technology despatched its Peregrine lander towards the moon. But a malfunction with its propulsion system shortly after launch prevented any chance of touchdown. Ten days later, as Peregrine swung again towards Earth, it burned up within the ambiance above the Pacific Ocean.

Both Odysseus and Peregrine are a part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, or CLPS. The object of this system is to make use of industrial firms to ship experiments to the moon somewhat than NASA constructing and working its personal moon landers.

“We’ve at all times seen these preliminary CLPS deliveries as being form of a studying expertise,” Joel Kearns, the deputy affiliate administrator for exploration in NASA’s science mission directorate, mentioned throughout a information convention on Tuesday.

The house company hopes this method might be less expensive, permitting it to ship extra missions extra continuously because it prepares to ship astronauts again to the moon as a part of its Artemis program.


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