Houston space company Intuitive Machines will attempt to land on the moon with the Odysseus spacecraft in late February. The mission follows a failed attempt by Astrobotic in January, whose Peregrine lander failed to reach the moon due to a propellant leak. The failure of the Peregrine probe means that Intuitive Machines’ IM-1 mission could be the first ever commercial landing on the moon.
The company Intuitive Machines se will attempt to land on the moon on February 22 in the Malapert A crater near the moon’s south pole. Odysseus will leave Earth aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket sometime between February 14 and 16.
Odysseus is the first of three Nova-C modules that Intuitive Machines plans to send to the moon this year, all carrying commercial cargo and NASA instruments. The lander is 4.3 meters high, it is about the size of a giraffe and can carry approximately 130 kg of cargo. His mission will be short, but potentially valuable for information on future expeditions to the area. Orbiting probes have discovered evidence of water ice at the moon’s south pole, which could be viable for astronauts and even fuel.
It is expected that the solar-powered vessel and all the equipment it carries will only be operational for about a week before the onset of the moonlit night, a fourteen-day period of freezing darkness that renders the module inoperable. NASA awarded Intuitive Machines a $77 million contract to supply the equipment back in 2019, and six NASA instruments are now on board Odyssey.
Other cargo aboard the Odyssey is commercial. American clothing company Columbia Sportswear will use its Omni-Heat Infinity heat-reflective material to protect the space shuttle’s cryogenic propellant tank. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University students developed a camera system called EagleCam that will attempt to detach from the module before it lands and take a snapshot of that moment from a third-person perspective. The EagleCam is also equipped with an experimental dust removal system. There are even several Jeff Koons sculptures headed for the moon, which will have a physical and NFT counterpart on Earth.