NASA to stream first US uncrewed commercial Moon landing

The space agency’s unmanned satellite mission to the Moon is on course to arrive on Thursday. Coverage of the landmark event, which if successful, will be the first such US landing in partnership with a private company, is to be livestreamed.

The Odysseus lunar lander, designed and built by Texas-based company Intuitive Machines, is due to touch down near the Moon’s south pole “no earlier than” 5:49 p.m. EST on February 22nd.

As well as being the first American public-private space flight of its kind to succeed, it would also mark the first successful lunar landing by the US since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

The mission is part of the Artemis project intended to pave the way for crewed missions to the Moon and ultimately Mars.

Live coverage of the landing near Malapert A on the Moon’s surface will be shown on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website and is due to commence from 4.15 p.m. on the day of the landing.

The coverage will include livestreaming and regular blog updates. NASA TV can also be streamed on a variety of platforms, including social media, the agency added.

During that time, Intuitive Machines and NASA will jointly host a news conference to discuss the mission and the opportunities for scientific discovery that it promises.

“Through the Artemis campaign, commercial robotic deliveries will perform science experiments, test technologies, and demonstrate capabilities to help NASA explore the Moon in advance of Artemis Generation astronaut missions to the lunar surface, and ultimately crewed missions to Mars,” said NASA.

The agency awarded the mission contract to Intuitive Machines in 2019 under the Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative, a program that employs a pool of private companies working on space flights with NASA. The agency expects up to $2.6 billion to have been spent on it by 2028.

A previous attempt to land a commercial US space flight on the Moon failed at the beginning of the year, after the Peregrine lunar lander built by Astrobotic Technology was prevented from reaching its destination by a propellent leak.

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