Second Launch Attempt For America's Private Moon Lander Scheduled For Early Thursday After Initial Glitch

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Feb 14, 2024 - 02:30 PM

Just over a month following the incident where America's first commercial moon lander in half a century experienced a catastrophic fuel leak hours after United Launch Alliance's new Vulcan booster blasted the spacecraft into orbit, a second US company is gearing up to send a robotic lander to the lunar surface aboard a SpaceX rocket. 

Elon Musk's private space company, SpaceX, will launch Houston-based Intuitive Machines Inc.'s Nova-C lander, called Odysseus, aboard a Falcon 9 rocket around 0105 ET Thursday. The launch was initially set for Wednesday morning from NASA's Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, but the launch team had to "stand down" due to irregular methane temperatures before loading.

If Odysseus is successful, Intuitive Machines will secure a title that has remained out of reach for many companies and nonprofits by becoming the first private space company to successfully land a lander on the lunar surface. The US last landed an undamaged spacecraft on the moon in 1972. 

Last month, Pittsburgh-based company Astrobotic Technology's Peregrine robotic lunar lander suffered a "critical" propellant loss from a fuel leak hours after launch, which forced the company to scrap the mission. 

The failure of Astrobotic's Peregrine lander - on a NASA mission - was the third private company attempting to achieve a successful landing on the moon. 

Given this trend, the world is watching Intuitive Machines to see if they can pull off a successful moon landing, which is expected one week after launch.

"We learn from the successes and the failures of the past and stand on all those shoulders to try to be successful," Intuitive Machines CEO Stephen Altemus told Bloomberg in an interview, adding, "And the key here is to be undeterred."