Moon Touchdown: The Spacecraft Odysseus Prepares for Its Shot on the Moon


Meeting of the Nova-C lander on the firm’s headquarters in Houston.Credit score…Intuitive Machines

The Odysseus spacecraft is hexagonal in form with six touchdown legs, standing about 14 toes tall and 5 toes extensive. For followers of “Dr. Who,” the science fiction tv present, the physique of the lander is roughly the dimensions of the Tardis, the time-traveling spacecraft that, on the skin, appears to be like like an previous British police phone sales space.

NASA is the primary buyer for the Intuitive Machines flight, paying the corporate $77 million to ship six devices to the lunar floor. They’re:

  • A laser retroreflector array to bounce again laser beams fired from lunar orbit. That may act as a exact location marker for Odysseus. Throughout the Apollo missions, astronauts left related retroreflectors on the moon.

  • A LIDAR instrument will exactly measure the spacecraft’s altitude and velocity because it descends to the floor. LIDAR is much like radar, besides that it makes use of laser gentle as an alternative of radio waves.

  • A stereo digicam will seize video of the plume of mud kicked up by the lander’s engines throughout touchdown.

  • A low-frequency radio receiver will measure the results of charged particles close to the lunar floor on radio alerts. That may present info that might assist the design of future radio statement on the lunar floor.

  • The Lunar Node-1 navigation beacon seeks to show an autonomous navigation system.

  • The lander’s propellant tank features a NASA instrument that makes use of radio waves to measure how a lot propellant stays within the tank.

The lander can also be carrying a number of different payloads, together with a digicam constructed by college students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical College in Daytona Seashore, Fla.; a precursor instrument for a future moon telescope; and an artwork challenge by Jeff Koons.



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