Odysseus submitting data from moon's surface

Feb. 29—Data sent from Intuitive Machines' moon lander Odysseus is being downloaded and analyzed.

The lander, also referred to as Ody, which has ties to New Mexico, carried six NASA science instruments to the south pole region of the moon as part of NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services, or CLPS, initiative, and Artemis campaign, according to information presented at a news conference with NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston on Wednesday.

The IM-1 mission is the first U.S. spacecraft to land on the moon in more than 50 years. It successfully landed on the moon's surface on Feb. 22. A series of international partners, including Australia, Canada, India, Japan, South Africa and Spain, contributed to the mission in various forms, according to mission officials.

The Intuitive Machines' 14-foot lander used laser range finder technology tested twice in 2021 and once in 2022 at Spaceport America southeast of Truth or Consequences. The technology assisted in the landing.

"The landing gear did what it was supposed to do and protected the lander as it landed on the surface," said Steve Altemus, the CEO and co-founder of Intuitive Machines. "... Our navigation system landed us with precision and landed us softly on the moon."

He said the lander tilted over gently to about a 30-degree angle and continued to communicate with Earth.

Altemus said it was anticipated that the mission would extend on the moon's surface for 144 hours and that Odysseus would sleep after.

"Currently in that mission control room, Odysseus continues to generate solar power," Altemus said. "We are projecting a time where the solar power generation will not allow Ody to continue sending data down telemetry, but we will be putting Ody to sleep and expect to wake him in the next two or three weeks for development test objective, which is actually to see if we can, when the sun illuminates the solar panel again, we can (get) another signal back from this lander. So we're excited about that."

Odysseus' mission was to be a pathfinder for future missions.

"This is an exciting time to be on day six of this new era in the 21st century," said Joel Kearns, deputy associate administrator, Exploration, Science Mission Directorate at NASA. "... This mission is a pathfinder. You can think of it as a flight test, a first step to get back to the moon. "

Flight controllers are analyzing the data that is coming down from Odysseus.

"We've gotten data from all of the payloads," Altemus said.

He said the team has received data related to the flight's guidance, navigation, control, propulsion and other areas. He said the team will do a reconstruct and evaluate the entire mission and use that information in future spaceflights.

Odysseus' mission is considered successful despite some critical mission challenges, NASA officials said.

"What we've done in the process of this mission though, is we've fundamentally changed the economics of landing on the moon and we've kicked open the door of a robust, thriving cis-lunar economy in the future," Altemus said. "That's compelling and so I think this CLPS experiment, this first landing, this success on the moon, first time in 52 years, is really a point in history that we should celebrate as we move forward to subsequent missions throughout the moon."