US

‘Welcome to the moon’: Spacecraft Odysseus touches down after ‘nail-biter’ first mission ever by private company

The Odysseus moon lander has successfully touched down.

The privately-owned Intuitive Machines’ lander is the first US lander to successfully touch down on the moon’s surface in more than 50 years – since the last of NASA’s Apollo programme in 1972.

It is also the first ever private craft to land on the moon.

There were claps in the Houston control room as landing success was confirmed after a few tense minutes.

“Welcome to the moon,” mission director Tim Crain said. admitting it had been a “nailbiter”.

The team had to wait for confirmation that there was a signal before celebrating.

The lander was successfully launched aboard a SpaceX rocket last week.

Following the latest update: Moon landing live

NASA is the mission’s main sponsor, paying $118m (£93.5m) to put its experiments on board as part of a programme which could eventually see astronauts return to the moon later in the decade.

Odysseus is also carrying six other payloads from commercial companies.

It has landed closer to the moon’s south pole than any other craft.

The region has many more craters, cliffs and boulders than the equator, where the Apollo landings were in the 60s and 70s.

Scientists hope to find layers of ice, or perhaps Arctic-style permafrost, from which they can create hydration for astronauts – something which would enable them to stay for prolonged missions.

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