Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Thursday the 22nd 5:30 PM EST

Thursday afternoon at 5:30 PM EST  is the targeted time for the landing of Intuitive Machines IM-1 Odysseus mission near the lunar south pole.  This morning at 9:20 CST, IM posted an update on the Lunar Orbit Insertion maneuver. (The time was updated later on the 21st)

Odysseus completed its scheduled 408-second main engine lunar orbit insertion burn and is currently in a 92 km circular lunar orbit. Initial data indicates the 800 m/s burn was completed within 2 m/s accuracy.

After traveling over 1,000,000  km, Odysseus is now closer to the Moon than the end-to-end distance driving across Space City, Houston, TX.

Over the next day, while the lander remains in lunar orbit, flight controllers will analyze the complete flight data and transmit imagery of the Moon.

Odysseus continues to be in excellent health. We expect to continue to provide mission updates at least once a day on X and the IM-1 Mission web page, where we intend to host a live stream for landing coverage.

That link above is the Mission web page to keep an eye on for the live stream of the landing.  

If all goes according to plan, Intuitive Machines will be the first private company to land on the moon, and will mark the first American soft lunar landing since Apollo 17 in December of 1972, just over 51 years ago. 

The first private company to attempt a lunar landing was Japan's iSpace, with their Hakuto-R in April of 2023, but it didn't successfully land.  India became the fourth national space program to land on the moon with their Chandrayaan-3 mission last August.  Don't forget Astrobotic's Peregrine lander that had a fuel leak after launch last month and never got as close to trying to land as Hakuto-R.  

Odysseus' original landing target was Oceanus Procellarum, or 'Ocean of Storms', the largest basaltic plain visible on the western edge of the visible side of the moon.  That was changed to Malapert A, a small impact crater about 190 miles (300 kilometers) from the moons' south pole.

Instead, Malapert A is a relatively flat and safe region located within the heavily cratered southern highlands on the side of the moon visible from Earth, NASA officials said in a statement announcing the new landing site in May 2023.

"The decision to move from the original landing site in Oceanus Procellarum was based on a need to learn more about terrain and communications near the lunar south pole, which is expected to be one of the best locations for a sustained human presence on the moon," NASA officials said in the statement.

"Landing near Malapert A also will help mission planners understand how to communicate and send data back to Earth from a location that is low on the lunar horizon."

A map of the area coded for elevations: blue are lowest through greens and reds to the highest in brown and then gray at Mons Mouton, bottom left.  Malapert is at the bottom center.  Image credit, Intuitive Machines.

I'll be trying to watch this one tomorrow. 


  1. There's gonna be quite a bunch of Nerdle watching this, SiG!

    1. It was great, but a LOT of us were holding our breath until they announced reception of a carrier signal...
      It will be interesting to see WHY that happened. Doesn't it have the capability to "talk" (relay through) the LRO??

  2. "how to communicate and send data back to Earth from a location that is low on the lunar horizon."

    Just spitballing, but howzabout five satellites in lunar-synchronous orbits, all in LOS from each other, at the lunar North Pole, South Pole, and three equidistant points circling the lunar equator. Now you've got lunar comms 24/7, and potentially lunar GPS, for the lifespan of those craft.

    This was pretty much figured out decades ago.

    If we're serious about the moon, spend the dough, and place the constellation. Should have been done NLT the late 1970s.

    1. Would have been too spendy at that time. NOW, it's almost trivial - you may see something in the future...

    2. Magic 8-Ball says "Starlink, FTW!".

    3. MOONlink, FTW.
      Did you know that the IETF is working on an "interplanetary" IP protocol?

  3. I am always amused by the recitation of distances and speeds.

    Really these people need to be like us Los Angelino's, when some out of towner asks how *far* something is we tell them the *time* it takes to get there (and usually add "except at rush hour").

  4. Feeling good about this one.......

  5. Landed at 5:23 PM central standard time

    1. Seems like it took 15 minutes to confirm it landed.

      We should know more tomorrow, but as I understand it, the signal is weaker than expected and they're troubleshooting. I don't think it tipped over like SLIM, but it's not functioning as if this was the best possible outcome. Still, it landed and it's transmitting, and that counts for a lot.

      First private mission to land on the moon, and first flying under the American flag since Apollo 17, 51 years ago (plus two months).

    2. Since the antennas on the lander are fixed to the lander, it's orientation upon touchdown is extremely critical. Listening "between the lines" to a replay, the presenter said that the lander has a software routine where if it can't pick up a usable signal, it resets the radios, and switches to a different pair of fixed antennas. Each routine takes ~15 minutes to run, so they terminated the broadcast before either of the events had even started. There was talk of an "8-degree roll" during the landing, which would have caused an equal error in the azimuth of the antennas after touchdown.
      All they really know is that it's down, and transmitting, but with a very "faint" signal that required the 32M (105' diameter) antenna at Goonhilly Downs to receive. I'm following this to see if the antenna switching causes any improvement.