The company stated that the Odysseus moon lander tilted onto its side upon landing.

The company stated that the Odysseus moon lander tilted onto its side upon landing.


The Odysseus moon lander from Intuitive Machines descended at a faster rate than anticipated and shifted slightly to the side at 7:35.moment of touchdown

According to officials, on Friday, Thursday’s landing on the moon resulted in tipping over onto its side after apparently encountering a footpad.

The data from telemetry suggests that the spacecraft may be sitting on a rock or the lander could be tilted on a slope. However, Steve Altemus, the CEO and co-founder of Intuitive Machines, stated that Odysseus can still harness solar power and transmit data on engineering and science back to Earth.

The engineers are currently retrieving data and anticipate being able to transmit saved images as soon as this weekend, providing clarification on the positioning of the spacecraft, which stands at 14 feet tall.

A message praising the collaboration between NASA and the Intuitive Machines team.

“The United States tackles difficult tasks,” the statement stated. “We overcome the significant scientific challenges of our era. And there is nothing that we cannot achieve when we collaborate.”

NASA’s Commercial Lunar Services Payloads program provided partial funding for Odysseus. The program aims to incentivize private companies to create transportation systems that can be utilized by the agency for delivering payloads to the moon.


The Odysseus lunar module observed during pre-launch preparations.

Intuitive Machines

Intuitive Machines received a payment of $118 million from NASA for transporting six payloads on board the Odysseus spacecraft to the moon.

This Falcon 9 rocket was launched on February 15th by SpaceX.

Odysseus successfully entered the moon’s orbit on Wednesday. The flight controllers then adjusted the orbit slightly to fix a small targeting mistake and prepared for landing. However, they encountered difficulties with a sensor package that is crucial for accurately guiding the spacecraft to its landing spot.

Fortunately for Intuitive Machines, out of the six NASA payloads on the Odysseus spacecraft, one was designed to assess a distinct form of navigation sensor called NDL, short for Navigation Doppler Lidar.

The NDL system functions similarly to a radar, however, it uses reflected laser light instead of radio waves to accurately determine the speed, direction, and height of a vehicle.

Odysseus received instructions to complete an extra loop around the moon as engineers worked quickly to develop and examine software updates that would incorporate the NASA system into the lander’s navigation algorithms.

According to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, their success can be attributed to this factor. He stated on Thursday evening during an interview with CBS News that the payload developed by NASA played a crucial role in their achievement. However, he also acknowledged the contributions of Odysseus and Intuitive Machines, as this marks the first time a privately-owned lander has successfully accomplished this task.

As Odysseus approached its landing spot, it shifted from a horizontal to a vertical position in order to make its final descent and touch down. The flight plan specified that the spacecraft should land with a vertical speed of only 2 mph, which is equivalent to a leisurely walking pace.

Due to an unforeseen sideways movement, engineers speculate that one of the lander’s six footpads may have collided with a rock or become stuck in a crevice, resulting in the spacecraft tipping over.

Based on the data collected, Altemus stated that it needs to be slightly lifted from the surface in a horizontal position. This leads us to believe that it is either resting on a rock or its foot is wedged in a crevice to maintain its posture.


According to engineers, the Odysseus spacecraft, which was initially expected to land vertically, ended up tilting over and coming to a rest on its side. An artistic representation of the landing shows the intended vertical orientation.

Intuitive Machines

The news that Odysseus had tipped over upon landing was unexpected, as Intuitive Machines had previously stated that telemetry showed the spacecraft was upright. However, Altemus stated on Friday that this conclusion was based on outdated information.

After a more detailed examination of the leftover fuel and the information collected by the inertial measurement units revealing the force of gravity, it was determined that the spacecraft was actually lying on its side.

The successful landing brought attention to the potential dangers for robotic spacecraft trying to land on unfamiliar landscapes. It also highlighted the difficulty of self-navigating through unseen obstacles such as rocks when in orbit.

A Japanese moon probe

Last month, Odysseus experienced a tip over upon landing, which hindered its ability to carry out the intended scientific tasks. Despite this setback, Altemus and Tim Crain, the chief technology officer at Intuitive, remain hopeful that Odysseus can still fulfill most of its goals.

Unfortunately, one of the desired goals will not be achieved.

A group of students from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University created a new camera system for experimental use. The purpose was to capture images of the lander during its descent before touchdown. However, the system was not released as intended due to software limitations caused by issues with the guidance system.

According to Altemus, the “EagleCam” package will be released at a later time, shooting out to one side from a distance of several feet. If the operation is successful, the cameras will capture images of Odysseus lying on its side, providing engineers and the general public with the most optimal views of the spacecraft’s positioning.