Intuitive Machines

Mission to the moon

1 minute read

On Feb. 22, the unmanned Odysseus spacecraft from Houston-based Intuitive Machines, soft-landed on the moon. It joined the U.S., Russia, India, Japan, and China as part of a rarefied group that has achieved the feat—the first ever commercial company to do so, and the first U.S. landing on the moon since the 1970s. Founded in 2013, the company—with just 389 employees—is working with public and private sectors to develop a commercial economy on and around the moon, so Odysseus carried both scientific equipment for NASA and payloads for commercial firms. In 2018, co-founder, president, and CEO Steve Altemus (who spent 24 years working on human spaceflight at NASA) helped secure a share of a $2.6 billion contract to propose and fly a range of missions, including two more landers to the south polar region of the moon, where Odysseus touched down and where future crews will land. Intuitive Machines also plans to launch six communications satellites into orbit around the moon, and aims to eventually land the 1.5-metric ton lunar rover that will be used by NASA’s Artemis astronauts.

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