Intuitive Machines’ lander touches down on the Moon in an historic first for U.S. company

February 26, 2024

A U.S. company has gone to the Moon—and into the history books. Intuitive Machines’ IM_1 mission reached the Moon’s surface on Thursday evening, February 22, in the first American lunar landing since NASA’s Apollo era, reports CNBC.

The company’s Nova-C cargo lander, named “Odysseus” after the mythological Greek hero, is the first U.S. spacecraft to land on the lunar surface since 1972. Adding to the feat, Intuitive Machines is the first company to pull off a moon landing; government agencies have carried out all previously successful missions.

“We are on the surface and we are transmitting. Welcome to the moon,” Intuitive Machines’ CEO Steve Altemus said from mission control.

There was a delay, as expected, between the landing and when engineers were able to assess its success.

A few minutes after the expected landing time, Intuitive Machines’ mission control was still trying to reconnect communications with the spacecraft to confirm whether it landed. The company’s mission control ultimately picked up a signal and announced its lander was on the surface.

“What we can confirm, without a doubt, is that our equipment is on the surface of the moon and we are transmitting. So, congratulations, IM-1,” Tim Crain, Intuitive Machines’ CTO and IM-1 mission director, said.

“Odysseus has found his new home,” Crain added.

Two hours after the landing, Intuitive Machines said in a statement that “flight controllers have confirmed Odysseus is upright and starting to send data.” [Editor’s note: By February 23, reports confirmed that Odysseus had toppled on its side but was still transmitting.]

“Today, for the first time in more than a half century, the U.S. has returned to the moon. Today, for the first time in the history of humanity, a commercial company and an American company launched and led the voyage up there,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said on the livestream.

Research contact: @CNBC