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Odysseus makes historic lunar landing: ‘Welcome to the moon’

The Odysseus lunar lander made a historic moon landing Thursday afternoon, becoming the first private spacecraft to do so and marking the first U.S. moon landing in more than 50 years.

“I know this was a nail-biter, but we are on the surface, and we are transmitting. Welcome to the moon,” Intuitive Machines CEO Stephen Altemus said after the successful landing.

“Odysseus has a new home,” Intuitive Machines posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

The highly anticipated landing by Intuitive Machines, the Houston-based company that developed the spacecraft, was not guaranteed. Before landing, the robotic spacecraft ran into issues and the expected touchdown time was delayed.

Though the craft landed on the moon, contact with the craft was weak, and there were no immediate updates on the conditions from the company, The Associated Press reported.  

Odysseus, the uncrewed lander, was in orbit around the moon and guided itself toward the South Pole six days after it took off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said the mission carried a dream and new adventure in “science, innovation and American leadership in space.”

Odysseus is carrying NASA scientific instruments and experiments. Through the mission, Intuitive Machines was looking to become the first private business to achieve a moon landing, which has only been achieved by five countries.

Last month Japan became the fifth country to land on the moon, joining Russia, the U.S., China and India in the accomplishment, the AP reported.

A different company made an attempt last month but did not make it to the moon, and the spacecraft crashed back toward Earth, the AP reported.

Thursday’s landing was the first lunar touchdown for the United States since 1972, when Apollo 17 landed, which was the most recent time humans have set foot on the Moon.

Cheers erupted in the NASA control room after the landing, and the mission director announced on the livestream that they could confirm “without a doubt, that our equipment is on the surface of the moon.”

NASA posted online in celebration of the landing, saying that the spacecraft landed at 6:23 p.m. EST and brought “NASA Science to the Moon’s surface.”

“These instruments will prepare us for future exploration of the Moon under #Artemis,” the organization posted.

Artemis, NASA said, is the “first step in the next era” of space exploration. By collaborating with commercial and international partners, NASA will “establish a sustainable presence” on the moon and prep for missions to Mars. The first crewed mission to the moon is expected for September 2025.

Updated at 7:54 pm EST.

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