What is Odysseus? Everything to know about the first US spacecraft to land on the moon in more than 50 years

On Thursday, the US spacecraft Odysseus made history by becoming the first to land on the moon in over 50 years.

Published on Feb 23, 2024  |  02:40 PM IST |  30.6K
Image courtesy: Twitter/ NASA
Image courtesy: Twitter/ NASA
Key Highlight
  • US Spacecraft, Odysseus successfully landed on the moon on Thursday
  • Odysseus touched down near Malapert A, an impact crater situated near the moon's south pole

The United States has touched the lunar surface for the first time in more than 50 years a privately-built spacecraft called Odysseus touched down close to the moon's south pole. After achieving this milestone, Intuitive Machines (IM), the company that developed the Nova-C lander, became the first private enterprise to successfully land on the moon.

The triumphant landing of Odysseus marks the commencement of a novel phase in lunar exploration, revitalizing American enthusiasm for deep space expeditions that surpass Earth's orbit. The company confirmed that it has established communication with the moon, even though it is still unclear how well is the lander's condition.

What is Odysseus?

Launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on February 15, Odysseus is equipped with a novel supercooled liquid oxygen and liquid methane propulsion system that enables it to go across space quickly.  Arriving close to the lunar south pole at 2323 GMT, this hexagon-shaped craft, which is a member of a new fleet of unmanned commercial robots financed by NASA, decelerated from 4,000 miles per hour (6,500 kilometers per hour).

Odysseus's landing site and equipment

Situated 300 kilometers (180 miles) away from the lunar south pole, the landing site, Malapert A, is situated inside an impact crater. NASA intentionally selected this landing spot to learn more about the lunar environment and improve comprehension of local communication protocols. NASA's intention to build an astronaut base at the lunar south pole is reflected in the decision


Odysseus is fitted with several sensors, including cameras to examine changes in the lunar surface brought about by spaceship engine plumes and a device to examine charged dust particle clouds created by solar radiation during twilight.

It also has a NASA landing device that measures precise frequency changes and signal return times using laser pulses. This makes it possible to determine the spacecraft's velocity and distance from the surface with accuracy, which is essential for preventing potentially disastrous collisions.

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