Odysseus Lunar Lander Tipped Over On Its Side, But Still Operational

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., early Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. If all goes well, a touchdown attempt on the moon by Intuitive Machines' lunar lander would occur Feb. 22, after a day in lunar orbit. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The Odysseus lander, the pioneering spacecraft from private company Intuitive Machines, tipped over and is lying on its side near the moon’s south pole.

Launched by the Houston-based firm, Odysseus made headlines as it became the first private mission to soft-land on the moon in more than half a century. However, the moment of triumph took an unexpected turn when the lander encountered terrain challenges that resulted in a tipped position.

According to a report from the Associated Press, the disruption occurred when the craft “caught a foot in the surface,” potentially damaging one of its six legs. Despite the precarious situation, Steve Altemus, CEO of Intuitive Machines, maintains a measure of optimism.

“We have quite a bit of operational capability even though we’re tipped over,” he asserted on Friday.

The lander’s current orientation compromises the function of certain antennas, which are now facing the lunar surface, hindering the flow of valuable data back to Earth.

Official updates from Intuitive Machines offer a silver lining, assuring the public that the lander remains “alive and well.” Despite past issues and delays that plagued the mission, the Odysseus lander has not ceased operations.

Odysseus’ touchdown occurred on Thursday, slightly off target from the intended landing zone near the Malapert A crater. The mission carries with it an array of scientific instruments and experiments sponsored by NASA, making its success integral not only to private space exploration but also to broader scientific objectives.

This landmark mission took flight from Kennedy Space Center in Florida and represents America’s first lunar landing since the historic Apollo 17 expedition in 1972.