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Touchdown! Odysseus First US Spacecraft To Land On Moon In 50 Years

The Falcon 9 rocket carried the Odysseus spacecraft to help ensure its successful moon landing. (Source: SpaceX)

The US has landed its first spaceship on the Moon, more than 50 years after the Apollo 11 spacecraft touchdown on the Sea of Tranquility.

AFP reports that the spacecraft Odysseus, designed by a private Houston-based company, began its journey aboard the SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket as it launched from the Kennedy Space Centre on February 15. The spacecraft separated from the giant payload fairing of the rocket minutes after it entered space.

The report said Odysseus has a 73-minute descent from orbit before it touched down near the moon’s south pole.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson posted on X, “Today, for the first time in half a century, America has returned to the Moon. On the eighth day of a quarter-million-mile voyage, @Int_Machines aced the landing of a lifetime. What a feat for IM, @SpaceX & @NASA. What a triumph for humanity. Odysseus has taken the Moon.”

Web portal space.com described Odysseus as a robotic lunar lander built by the Houston-based company Intuitive Machines. However, there is no clarity about the condition of the spacecraft which is yet to send live images from the moon.

Intuitive Machines said in a statement on X that mission managers were “working to downlink the first images from the lunar surface.”

This is the first time a commercial vehicle has landed on the moon.

The Odysseus will gather data about the lunar environment said the Guardian. The area has been chosen because scientists believe that it is rich in frozen water that could help in creating a future base.