US spacecraft successfully lands on the moon for the first time in over 50 years


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What just happened? Odysseus has become the first US spacecraft to land on the lunar surface in more than 50 years, marking the first time a commercial lander has reached the surface of the moon. The last time a US spacecraft touched down on the lunar surface was in 1972 when Apollo 17 landed with astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt.

According to NASA, the hexagonal lander touched down near the lunar south pole at around 6:23 p.m. ET (23:23 GMT) on February 22 following a tense final descent during which lasers meant to determine horizontal velocity and altitude stopped working, forcing ground controllers to switch to an untested NASA Doppler LIDAR landing system that was originally meant to be an in-flight technology demonstration.

Odysseus launched into space aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on February 15, before sending its first images from space the following day. The soft landing on Thursday makes it the first American non-government lander to successfully touch down on the moon. It is the second private lunar mission this year after the first one ended in failure last month.

Dubbed "IM-1," the latest US lunar mission is led by Houston-based Intuitive Machines, but is partly funded by NASA as part of its efforts to land a series of uncrewed commercial robots on the moon before resuming crewed flights to Earth's only natural satellite later this decade. The successful landing is being hailed as a significant step towards NASA's future plans.

According to Intuitive Machines, the Odysseus lander is a "Nova-C" spacecraft that's roughly the size of an old-fashioned telephone booth. It is equipped with six NASA payloads that include scientific instruments to evaluate the lunar environment, including materials to study how the moon's soil behaves during landing. The vessel is expected to operate for seven days under sunlight before being put to sleep as the landing zone moves into Earth's shadow.

It is worth noting here that the IM-1 was the second private mission to the moon this year following a failed attempt last month, when a private company called Astrobotic unsuccessfully attempted to land the Peregrine lander on the lunar surface. Investigations revealed that the mission failed due to a fuel leak.

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I don't believe anything would be untested

"untested NASA Doppler LIDAR landing system that was originally meant to be an in-flight technology demonstration."

Now imagine the headline 55 years years ago:

“Lunar module tipped over on touchdown due to broken leg. Pulled upright by Armstrong & Aldrin using antennae wire and a golf club. Mission continues as planned”

Whatever happened to the promise of using AI? Why is this contraption using stored maps to figure out where to land? Doesn’t AI have the ability to distinguish a flat dust-plain from a giant rock?
I’m sticking to Voyagers 1 & 2 (corrupted memory & all) for all of my “space news” for the foreseeable future.
We are not ready to send people there. It will result in the greatest tragedy in space.
They should also add extra legs to the lander that could put it vertically in case it falls on the side.