Moon Lander Is Lying on Its Side but Still Functional, Officials Say

One day after its historic landing, the first private spacecraft on the moon is in good condition but has toppled over, the company that built it reported on Friday.

The spacecraft, named Odysseus, set down in the moon’s south pole region on Thursday evening, the first U.S. vehicle to land softly on the moon since Apollo 17 in 1972.

“The vehicle is stable near or at our intended landing site,” Steve Altemus, the chief executive of Intuitive Machines said during a NASA news conference on Friday. “We do have communications with the lander.”

He added, “That’s phenomenal to begin with.”

But the landing did not go perfectly. Because the spacecraft fell over, its antennas are not pointed directly at Earth, limiting the amount of information that can go back and forth.

Odysseus has not sent back any photographs since landing, although Mr. Altemus did show one that was taken while the spacecraft was descending to the surface. “You see how shadowed and undulating the terrain is,” he said.

Engineers at Intuitive Machines are still trying to extract more information from the spacecraft.

Mr. Altemus and Tim Crain, the chief technology officer, also described unforeseen glitches that nearly doomed the mission. The landing was salvaged through serendipity and frantic work, they said.


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