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The First Private Company to Land on the Moon? Fingers Crossed for Tomorrow!

Intuitive Machines Is Hoping… to be the first private company to land on the moon.

Landing on the moon is no easy feat, but tomorrow Odysseus hopes to become the first U.S. spacecraft to land softly on the lunar surface since the Apollo missions.

Intuitive Machines launched its spacecraft on February 15th to the lunar surface in the hopes of completing the first U.S. soft landing since the last Apollo mission in 1972. If its efforts are successful, the Houston-based company will also become the first to put a commercial spacecraft on the moon.

“We are keenly aware of the immense challenges that lie ahead,” said Intuitive Machines CEO Steve Altemus. “However, it is precisely in facing these challenges head-on that we recognise the magnitude of the opportunity before us: to softly return the United States to the surface of the Moon for the first time in 52 years.”

“By advancing our capabilities to operate on the lunar surface, the mission sets the stage for more ambitious endeavours, including the establishment of lunar bases and the exploration of potential resources,” Intuitive Machines said in a statement.

Odysseus, the company’s craft, could took off early on Wednesday, with the moon landing occurring nine days later. It will head to space on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, eventually separating from the rocket and—hopefully—landing near the moon’s south pole. On board, Odysseus is carrying several scientific payloads from NASA, which is giving Intuitive Machines $118 million to bring them to the lunar surface.

The government agency has been working on returning astronauts to the moon as part of the $2.6 billion Artemis program. However, that effort has gotten off to a rough start: Last month, Astrobotic Technology tried to send its spacecraft to the lunar surface, but it suffered a fuel leak and was unable to complete its mission. And shortly thereafter, NASA said that two of its flights would be delayed until September 2025 and September 2026 at the earliest.

Intuitive Machines, though, has been feeling pretty good about its prospects with Odysseus. “The vehicle is ready,” Stephen Altemus, the company’s CEO, told the Post in October. “It’s performing wonderfully. … We know the odds of what we’re up against. We’ve done extensive testing beyond development testing, to make sure that the vehicle is performing as designed. And we’re confident coming out of our reviews that we’ve hammered all those issues flat and that we know how the vehicle behaves.”

Of course, space is unpredictable, and even the best-laid plans can go awry. Intuitive Machines is hoping that Odysseus can weather whatever storms may be awaiting it in the great unknown. And beginning tomorrow, we’ll see what the lander can do.


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