Intuitive machines were the first American moon landings since the Apollo era

Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP) — A lunar new arrival is said to be “alive and well” a day later. First American landing Half a century on, but air traffic controllers were still trying to get a better handle on its bearings.

Intuition said on Friday that it was communicating with its lander, Odysseus, and sending commands to receive science data. But it noted: “We continue to learn about vehicle-specific information” such as location, overall health and positioning.

The Houston-based company has been filming in the South Pole region, near the Malabert A crater, closer to the pole than anyone else, so NASA can study the area before astronauts arrive later this decade.

With Thursday's touchdown, Intuitive Machines became the first private business to pull off a lunar landing, a feat only five countries had previously accomplished. The mission was largely funded by NASA, whose experiments were on board. NASA paid $118 million for supplies under the program to launch a lunar economy.

One of the NASA experiments was pressed into service when the lander's navigation system failed hours before touchdown. The lander took an extra lap around the moon to allow time to switch to NASA's laser system at the last minute.

“OD is a scrapper,” mission director Tim Crain said late Thursday on Twitter via X.

Another test, a cube with four cameras, was supposed to pop-off 30 seconds before touchdown to capture images of Odysseus landing. But Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Eagle Cam was intentionally turned off and attached to the lander during final descent due to a navigation switch.

Embry-Riddle's Troy Henderson said his team will try to launch EagleCam in the coming days so it can photograph the lander from about 26 feet (8 meters) away.

With lingering uncertainty about Odysseus' status on the moon, “getting the final image of the lander on the surface is still an incredibly important mission for us,” Henderson told The Associated Press.

Intuitive engines expect a solar-powered lander to be operational in a week on the moon, before lunar night falls.

The company is the second commercial mission to the Moon under NASA's Commercial Lunar Services program. Last month, Pittsburgh's Astrobotic Technology gave it a shot, but A Fuel leak on lander Mission cut short, the craft crashed back into Earth.

Until Thursday, the United States had not landed on the moon since Apollo 17's Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt shut down NASA's famed lunar landing program in December 1972. NASA's newest effort to return astronauts to the moon is named Artemis, after Apollo's mythical twin sister. The First landing of the Artemis crew Scheduled for 2026 at the earliest.

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The Associated Press receives support from the Health and Science Department of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Science and Education Media Group. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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