Landing on the Moon Wasn’t Easy for Odysseus, Which Clearly Has a Broken Leg in New Photo

Landing on the Moon Wasn’t Easy for Odysseus, Which Clearly Has a Broken Leg in New Photo

A new photo of Odysseus released by NASA illustrates just how rough the lander’s journey to the Moon has been, shining a light on its spunky resilience against all odds.

Taken on February 22, the day the lander touched down on the Moon, the photo shows Odysseus, affectionately called “Odie,” with a clearly broken leg on the lunar surface. While the photo might not look all that encouraging, Intuitive Machines explained that a perfect storm of events managed to work in Odie’s favor. Not only did Odysseus’ legs absorb the impact of the landing, but its liquid methane and liquid oxygen engine happened to still be throttling, which provided the lander with stability.

“This is a picture of Odie on the surface of the Moon, touching down, with its engine firing. You [can see] the landing gear, pieces have broken off there on the left of the image,” Steve Altemus, the CEO and co-founder of Intuitive Machines, said in a NASA press conference on Wednesday. “The landing gear did what it was supposed to do and protect[ed] the lander as it landed on the surface.”


Such a shaky landing did impact Odysseus, though. The lander is slightly tipped on its side, which has affected its ability to charge its solar panels. In its current position, Odysseus can only receive sunlight on its horizontal solar panel. Intuitive Machines estimated that the lander had only about 10 to 20 hours of power left on Tuesday.

The company will now proceed to put Odysseus to sleep and plans to wake it up in about three weeks during the solar noon, which is when the lander’s solar panel will begin to receive sunlight once more.

However, it’s unclear whether Odysseus will wake up when Intuitive Machines prods him from his nap. Officials explained that the lander and its electronics are not designed to withstand the freezing night on the Moon, where temperatures can drop down to -298 degrees Fahrenheit (-183 degrees Celsius).

Even if Odysseus doesn’t wake up, the mission is already considered a success. Intuitive Machines became the first private company in history to carry out a soft landing on the Moon and marked the first return of the U.S. to the lunar surface since the Apollo 17 mission of 1972. Waking up Odysseus would be an extra treat.

In a way, Odysseus also brought the Apollo mission back to the Moon. The lander is adorned with a patch of a small American flag, which was originally prepared to launch on future Apollo missions in the 1970s that never came to be. NASA donated the flag to Odysseus.

“It was a certified piece of flight hardware. We took that American flag and proudly put it on Odysseus and carried to it the Moon, like it should have been done 52 years ago,” Altemus, the Intuitive Machines CEO, said. “I’m really proud of that.”

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