Odysseus Sends Moon Landing Photos Home With Time Running Out

Odysseus, the American robotic spacecraft that landed on the moon last week, is likely to die in the next day or so.

Communications with the toppled lander remain limited and will end when sunlight is no longer shining on the solar panels, Intuitive Machines, the Houston-based company that built and operates Odysseus, said on Monday morning.

The company also released images that the spacecraft took as it descended, but none yet from the surface.

Odysseus is the first American spacecraft to land on the moon since Apollo 17 in 1972, and the first private one ever to successfully set down there in one piece. However, during the landing on Thursday evening, the lander, about 14 feet tall, appears to have been traveling faster than planned and ended up tipped over on its side.

As a result, its antennas are not pointed back at Earth, greatly slowing the rate that data can be sent back. While some of the solar panels of Odysseus were initially bathed in sunlight, they will soon be in shadow as the sun moves across the sky. That will starve the spacecraft of energy, and its batteries will drain.

“Flight controllers intend to collect data until the lander’s solar panels are no longer exposed to light,” Intuitive Machines posted on X. “Based on Earth and Moon positioning, we believe flight controllers will continue to communicate with Odysseus until Tuesday morning.”

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