First Private Spacecraft Lands at Moon’s South Pole: US Company Makes Historic Landing

A private American company’s lunar lander, Odysseyus Chandrayaan’s south pole, landed according to Indian time at 4:53 AM. With this, Odysseyus became the first private company’s spacecraft to land.

Alongside, America has become the second country to land on the south pole of the moon. Earlier, on August 23, 2023, Chandrayaan-3 successfully landed on the south pole. Before landing, there was a flaw in Odysseyus’ navigation system. It was then rectified before the landing process.

According to reports from the New York Times, and American media, information about Odysseyus’ condition after landing has not been disclosed. However, Mission Director Tim Crane stated that they can confidently say that Odysseyus is present on the lunar surface without any doubt.

The speed of the spacecraft had increased. Although Odysseyus is a private moon mission, it is backed by the American space agency NASA. NASA has prepared 6 instruments for use in the mission.

According to media reports, the speed of the spacecraft increased before landing. As a result, Odysseus went into an orbit around the moon. Due to the increase in orbit, there was a change in the landing time. Previously, according to Indian time, it was scheduled to soft-land at 4:20 AM.

According to the British media BBC, the landing site of the Odysseyus lander is recognized as Malapert. Here, sunlight does not reach directly, and it’s a perpetually shadowed region. Malapert was identified by the Belgian astronomer from the 17th century, Melchior Montgolfier. Scientists believe that there is water here, but it exists in the form of ice.

This expanse is among the shortlisted sites where NASA is considering sending astronauts under the Artemis mission.

The landing procedure began with Odysseyus completing its lunar orbit. It then approached the landing site, which was approximately 6 miles away. Subsequently, the entire landing process was carried out in robotic mission mode. Following this, the descent velocity decreased.

The landing site had been chosen well in advance. Cameras installed on the spacecraft relayed real-time visuals of the landing spot to the mission control room. The received data was cross-checked or matched with previously acquired data. Solar panels were deployed during this phase. Post-landing, it will take seven days for the panels to be fully charged from there.

An American mission has landed on the moon after 51 years. The last time an American mission landed on the moon was in 1972 with the Apollo 17 mission, which performed a soft landing. After that, in 2022, the Artemis I mission was launched by the United States to orbit the moon, but it did not land.

NASA officials have made it clear that they will continue efforts for a soft landing on the moon. This includes launching the Griffin lander by the Astrobotic company in November 2024, which will land on the lunar south pole using NASA’s Viper rover.

India achieved the historic milestone of being the first country to reach the lunar south pole with the Chandrayaan mission aimed at lunar exploration. Chandrayaan-3 successfully landed on the lunar south pole on August 23, 2023. This marked the first successful landing on the moon’s south pole by any country. Chandrayaan-3 initiated the automatic landing process from an altitude of 30 kilometers, beginning the landing sequence, and completed the journey in the next 20 minutes.

At 6:04 PM, the Chandrayaan-3 lander touched down on the lunar surface, marking the first step on the moon. After landing, the lander transmitted a message: “I have reached my destination.” Now, the rover will come out of the lander ramp and start its experiments. ISRO launched Chandrayaan from Sriharikota on July 14. It took 41 days for Chandrayaan to reach the lunar south pole and successfully land.

Niyati Rao

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