LONDON: A lunar lander built by a US spaceflight company has become the first privately owned spacecraft to land on the Moon, reported German news agency (dpa).

Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C Odysseus lander touched down on the Moon’s south pole region at 11.23 pm (2323 GMT) on Thursday.

The moment also marked the first US Moon landing since the final mission of the Apollo programme – Apollo 17 – more than 50 years ago.

The news was confirmed by Intuitive Machines chief executive Steve Altemus, who said: “I know this was a nail biter but we are on the on the surface and we are transmitting.

“Welcome to the Moon.”

Meanwhile, in Washington, Sputnik reported that the Odysseus sent back a weak signal to Earth after some minutes of initial uncertainty, NASA officials said.

“For the first time in more than half a century, the United States has returned to the Moon,“ NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said.

“Odysseus has found its new home,“ said mission director Tim Crane.

The signal from Odysseus was lost for about seven minutes after touchdown and although the signal was then reacquired, it remained very weak, Intuitive Machines flight controllers said.

In addition, the status of the spacecraft and the robotic missions it carried might not be confirmed for many hours.

Intuitive Machines, the Texas-based company that built the lander under a contract with NASA, said on Thursday that Odysseus has started to send data after troubleshooting communications.

“After troubleshooting communications, flight controllers have confirmed Odysseus is upright and starting to send data,“ the company said on X, formerly Twitter.

The company’s staff is now working to downlink the first images from the lunar surface, the post said.-Bernama

Clickable Image
Clickable Image
Clickable Image