Watch Odysseus attempt the first US Moon landing since 1972

Odysseus passing over the near side of the Moon after entering lunar orbit insertion on February 21st.
Image: Intuitive Machines

NASA and Intuitive Machines’ lunar vehicle Odysseus is expected to touch down on the Moon today at 6:24PM ET and become the first successful US Moon landing since 1972’s Apollo 17 mission.

Odysseus began its journey to the Moon on February 15th after it hitched a ride on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. It plans to land on the Moon’s south pole.

The mission, officially known as IM-1, carries scientific cargo to help NASA learn more about the Moon’s surface before NASA’s Artemis program brings people back to the Moon in 2025. It brings a laser retroreflector array to help other spacecraft make precision landings and a radio navigation beacon to provide geolocation data to landers, rovers, and eventually astronauts.

If Odysseus does land on the lunar surface, it will be the first privately owned spacecraft to achieve that goal. The Astrobotic Peregrine lander, launched by United Launch Alliance last month, failed to reach the Moon after a propulsion system malfunction.

Other recent attempts include Japanese startup ispace’s Hakuto-R mission last April, which lost contact shortly before it was set to touch down, and Israel’s Beresheet lander that crashed in 2019. Japan’s Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) ran into trouble after coming down facing the wrong way last month, while last fall, Russia’s Luna 25 crashed into the Moon just before India’s Chandrayaan-3 made a successful landing.