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USA returns to the moon after 50 years

2024-02-23 09:43:00, Kosova & Bota CNA

USA returns to the moon after 50 years

A private spacecraft orbited the moon on its way to landing on Thursday, returning the United States to the lunar surface for the first time since the famous walk on it by astronauts from NASA's Apollo missions.

The Intuitive Machines company thus becomes the first private business to successfully land on the Moon, an achievement achieved by only five countries. Another rival company failed to land on the moon last month.

It was learned that the signal that was received on Earth by the Odysseus spacecraft was weak and that the controllers made efforts to amplify it to ensure better contact. Even the hours before landing were tense due to the failure of the laser navigation system. The controller team decided to try an experimental NASA system that hadn't been used before, and the spacecraft had to make another orbit around the moon to accommodate this last-minute change.

The spacecraft approached the moon on Wednesday, six days after it launched on a rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The spacecraft managed to enter lunar orbit to begin preparations for landing on the surface.

Controllers monitored the flight at a distance of nearly 400,000 kilometers from a company command center in Houston.

The 4.3-meter-tall, carbon-fiber-and-titanium craft carries six experimental instruments from NASA, which paid the company $118 million to build and fly the craft as part of efforts to commercialize it. journeys to the Moon, while the return of astronauts there, a few years later, is also planned.

The operation of the company Intuitive Machines is the latest in a series of efforts by states and private companies. Japan achieved a moon landing last month, joining successful landings by Russia, the United States, China and India.

The United States gave up a presence on the lunar surface in 1972, after NASA's Apollo program sent 12 astronauts to the lunar surface. A Pittsburgh company, Astrobotic Technology, made an attempt last month, but suffered a fuel leak that forced the craft to reenter Earth's atmosphere where it burned up.

The landing site selected by Intuitive Machines is near the Moon's south pole, surrounded by hills and craters that may contain frozen water.

The ship is powered by solar energy and was designed to continue operating for about a week after landing.

In addition to NASA's technology and navigation experiments, Intuitive Machines was also paid by other entities, such as by clothing company Columbia Sportswear to send its newest insulation material to the moon; by sculptor Jeff Koons to send there 125 mini-statues; as well as from the Embry-Riddle University of Aeronautics for several cameras that would record the moments of landing on the surface./ VOA

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