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SpaceX launches Intuitive Machines' Lunar Lander: A historic moment

Intuitive Machines, a private Houston-based company has launched its first lunar lander from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Written By: Saumya Nigam @snigam04 New Delhi Published on: February 15, 2024 16:37 IST
SpaceX, Intuitive Machines' Lunar Lander
Image Source : BBC SpaceX launches Intuitive Machines' Lunar Lander

Intuitive Machines, which is a private firm based in Houston has reportedly achieved a significant milestone by successfully launching Odysseus- its lunar lander to the Moon from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The mission was pushed forward by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which further marks a historic moment in private space exploration.

Launch and mission objectives

The spacecraft named Odysseus is reportedly set to touch down near the Moon's South Pole on February 22, carrying the hopes of Intuitive Machines for a successful lunar landing. Notably, the rocket booster was used for the launch and safely returned to Earth, with the help of SpaceX's reusable rocket technology.

Private firm's lunar aspirations

If this mission is successful, Intuitive Machines will secure a groundbreaking achievement: 

  • The first privately built spacecraft to land on the lunar surface.
  • This accomplishment has long eluded both companies and nonprofits aiming for lunar exploration.

Challenges and achievements

While the governmental agencies have historically led lunar exploration efforts, the track record for private enterprises has been mixed. The previous attempts by commercial spacecraft from Israel and Japan have failed in the landing phase. Similarly, Intuitive Machines' US rival, Astrobotic Technology Inc., faced setbacks in January due to engine failure during a moon-bound mission.

NASA partnership and commercial contracts

Intuitive Machines' lunar mission has been supported by a significant contract with NASA, with a total of USD 100 million. The contract, part of NASA's initiative to accelerate the development of commercial lunar landers, underscores the collaborative efforts between government and private sectors in space exploration.

The successful launch of Intuitive Machines' lunar lander represents a remarkable achievement in private space exploration, marking a significant step forward in humanity's quest to explore the cosmos. With continued innovation and collaboration, the future of lunar exploration holds boundless possibilities.

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