The latest images of a doomed lunar lander have been released after Odysseus failed to land on the moon last week.
Houston-based Initiative Machines shared stunning images of Earth’s natural satellite captured by the spacecraft as it descended to the surface.
During the United States’ first successful mission to the moon since Apollo in 1972, the spacecraft wobbled while attempting to land, falling on its side onto the landscape and unable to perform its mission, which was to search for lunar water.
Based on the position of the Earth and the Sun, officials expect the ship to stop all operations on Tuesday morning.
Intuitive Machines, which developed and operated the ship, has shared the first images that Odysseus took while descending to the moon.
Odysseus was about to become the first privately owned spacecraft to land on the moon, which Initiative Machines built for $118 million.
NASA signed a contract with the Houston-based company in 2021, under which the lunar lander took off on February 15, 2024.
Odysseus was equipped with instruments to drill into the moon, collect samples and analyze them for signs of water that would be used by the Artemis III astronauts who will reach the moon around 2026.
However, now that the ship is likely to shut down, the mission is no longer on the table.
Odysseus is still communicating with the field team and Intuitive Machines proclaimed it as “the most southerly vehicle it has ever gone.”
Shares of Houston-based Intuitive Machines fell more than 30 percent on Monday after the space exploration company said its Odysseus lunar lander had rolled over and was resting on its side.
But Odysseus is currently on his side due to a trip on the lunar surface. The photo shows how the company explained the position of the ship during the press conference on Friday.
New images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) camera confirmed that Odysseus landed 4,921 feet from its planned Malapert A landing site.
While the landing may have failed, Intuitive Machines noted that Odysseus still discovered nine safe landing sites in the target region of the south pole.
The nine landing sites may be rich in resources, which Odysseus was supposed to drill for water for future astronauts, but the task will likely not be completed due to the overturning of the ship.
But new images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) camera confirmed that Odysseus landed 4,921 feet from its planned Malapert A landing site.
While the landing may have failed, Intuitive Machines noted that Odysseus still discovered nine safe landing sites with the target region of the south pole.
A snapshot from the LRO shows the spacecraft as a faint, bright spot on the encapsulated lunar surface, a spot that may be its final resting place.
However, Ulysses was able to capture stunning images of the moon before making a crash landing.
“Flight controllers intend to collect data until the lander’s solar panels are no longer exposed to light,” Intuitive Machines shared in an announcement.
“Based on the positioning of the Earth and the Moon, we believe that flight controllers will continue to communicate with Odysseus until Tuesday morning.”
Because the ship is upside down, it cannot operate continuously because it is far from the sun.
The company, which became the first private company to land on the Moon and the first in the US since 1972, said all but one of its six NASA science and technology payloads were facing up and responsive to communications.
However, Intuitive Machine’s actions fIt rose 34 percent to $6.30 before Monday’s opening bell, more than offsetting gains from Friday, in which nearly 99 million shares exchanged hands, a record for the stock.
On Friday, the total value of shares traded reached $1.01 billion, surpassing the company’s market valuation of about $960 million, according to LSEG data.
The stock rise came before the company held a press conference Friday night to break the news that Odysseus did not make a soft landing as previously stated.
Intuitive Machines revealed that one of its legs became trapped, causing it to fall on its side, just a day after a white-knuckle landing that was confirmed as a soft landing.
CEO Steve Altemus explained that he and his team weren’t deliberately misleading the public when they shared on X about America’s return to the lunar surface: They were simply “working with old telemetry.”