Intuitive Machines’ Moon Lander Disaster Avoided through Sharp Reflexes and a Stroke of Good Fortune

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Using a small model of the lander, Altemus demonstrated how engineers believe the spacecraft, called Odysseus, made its descent given the most recent telemetry data. “The vehicle is stable near or at our intended landing site,” Altemus said. Part of the reason for that is because the onboard camera, an instrument called EagleCam, was powered down during landing. The company originally thought Odysseus was actually upright, but Altemus said that was based on “stale” telemetry data. Much of the mission’s success came down to very quick thinking by Intuitive Machines’ mission controllers — and just a stroke of very good luck.

Farewell Enigmatic Military Spacecraft: Safe Travels on Your Journey

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The Falcon Heavy lifted off on the clandestine mission at 8:07 PM Eastern from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The U.S. Space Force’s X-37B space plane, a reusable vehicle that acts as a classified testbed for experiments in space, was the sole payload on the massive rocket. Even the windows of the small space plane are blacked out. One of the big mysteries of this particular mission is the Space Force’s choice to book a triple-boosted Falcon Heavy. This is the fifth time SpaceX has launched a Falcon Heavy rocket this year, and the ninth overall since 2018.