As mission ends, US lunar lander could still ‘wake’ back up

WASHINGTON  -  The US spacecraft that touched down on the Moon last week and is currently running on solar power will soon be “put to sleep” once lunar night kicks in, mission officials said Wednesday. But while the mission that saw the first ever Moon landing by a private company is coming to an end, Intuitive Machines CEO Steve Altemus told re­porters that there are hopes to “wake it up” in about three weeks, when the Sun is out again. The historic mission has been hailed as a success by Intui­tive Machines and NASA, even as it ran into multiple problems along the way, including a landing that saw the un­crewed probe, named Odysseus, tip over upon reaching the surface. “What we’ve gotten in terms of data on the vehicle is a tremendous amount of the guidance, navigation control data, all the propulsion data, all the perfor­mance data for the vehicle that will allow us to completely reconstruct the mission,” Altemus told report­ers at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, in Florida. “What we’re going to do is kind of tuck Ody in for the cold night of the moon, and see if we can’t wake him up here when we get the solar noon,” in about three weeks, he said. Intuitive Machines officials weren’t sure if the batteries, after going through the en­suing plunging nighttime tempera­tures, would be able to pass on the power generated by the probe’s so­lar panels, but “why not try?” asked Altemus. NASA is planning to return astronauts to the Moon later this decade, and paid Intuitive Machines around $120 million for the mission, as part of an initiative to delegate cargo missions to the private sector and stimulate a lunar economy. Od­ysseus carries a suite of NASA instru­ments designed to improve scientific understanding of the lunar south pole, where the space agency plans to send astronauts under its Artemis program later this decade.

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