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Moon Lander Is Lying on Its Side but Still Functional, Officials Say

ScienceMoon Lander Is Lying on Its Side but Still Functional, Officials Say

One day after its historic landing, the first private spacecraft on the moon is in good condition but has toppled over, the company that built it reported on Friday.

The spacecraft, named Odysseus, set down in the moon’s south pole region on Thursday evening, the first U.S. vehicle to land softly on the moon since Apollo 17 in 1972.

Initially, Intuitive Machines, which built Odysseus, said that the craft had landed upright, but a subsequent analysis of data showed that it had come to rest on its side. That means the spacecraft’s antennas are not pointed at Earth, limiting the amount of data that can be sent back and forth.

Odysseus has not yet been able to send back any photographs since landing. Engineers at Intuitive are still trying to extract more information from the spacecraft.

“The vehicle is stable near or at our intended landing site,” Steve Altemus, the chief executive of Intuitive Machines, said during a NASA news conference on Friday. “We do have communications with the lander.”

He added, “That’s phenomenal to begin with.”

But he and Tim Crain, the chief technology officer, also described unforeseen glitches that had nearly doomed the mission. The landing was salvaged through serendipity and frantic work, they said.

This developing story will be updated.

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