An American probe landed on the moon, for the first time since the end of the Apollo program

An American probe landed on the moon, for the first time since the end of the Apollo program

The probe, belonging to the private company Intuitive Machines, landed on the surface of the moon on Thursday after a landing that lasted about an hour.

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Intuitive Machines' lander near the Moon, February 21, 2024. (INTUITIVE MACHINES / AFP)

This is the first time for a private company. A probe from the American company Intuitive Machines landed on the surface of the moon on Thursday, February 22, marking the first landing of an American device in more than 50 years and the end of the Apollo program in 1972. The Nova-C lander, which specifically transports scientific instruments for NASA, took off last week. From Florida. About an hour after landing, the landing took place on the surface of the moon 5:23 PM Houston time (12:23 AM Paris time), where the company's control room is located.

“We can confirm without a doubt that our equipment is on the moon, and we are broadcasting.” It's a sign, said Tim Crane, director of Intuitive Machines. “For the first time in human history, a private company, an American company, set out and led the journey there.”For his part, NASA Director Bill Nelson welcomed.

A risky descent

However, the signal received was weak and the position of the lander was not immediately clear. The company then Certain on That the moon landing has landed “standing” And I started on “Send data”. Landing was the scariest phase of the mission. The lasers that normally allow the device to orient itself didn't work, but a backup solution could be used: NASA's onboard instrument that was, originally, only to be tested during the mission.

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The site targeted by Intuitive Machines is about 300 kilometers from the lunar south pole, a crater called Malapert A. The lunar south pole is interesting because it has water in the form of ice that can be exploited. NASA wants to send its astronauts there from 2026 on its Artemis missions, and in order to prepare them in particular, it seeks to closely study this little-explored region.

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