Private Moon mission aims for success amidst previous failures.

February 15, 2024

TLDR: A private Moon mission hopes to succeed where others have failed. The odds are stacked against it. Only two out of five robotic landers sent to the Moon in the past year have succeeded, and none of the private companies have been successful. However, a new private lander called Odysseus, built by Intuitive Machines and part-funded by NASA, is currently on its way to the Moon and aims to land near the south pole within eight days. Success would make it the first soft landing on the Moon by an American-made spacecraft since 1972, and could pave the way for future human visits and a potential long-term presence.

The private lander Odysseus is carrying NASA payloads that will test navigation, landing, and radio communication technologies, as well as assess the Moon’s potential for radio astronomy. It is also carrying commercial payloads, including a camera to take a selfie of the landing and a set of sculptures by artist Jeff Koons. Previous lunar missions have failed due to software and hardware issues, but there is hope that Odysseus will succeed where others have not. Other private landing attempts are planned for later in 2024, with NASA and Japanese firm Ispace among those involved.

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