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Toppled moon lander sends back more images, with only hours left until it dies

By MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer
Published: February 27, 2024, 8:56am

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A moon lander that ended up on its side managed to beam back more pictures, with only hours remaining before it dies.

Intuitive Machines posted new photos of the moon’s unexplored south polar region Tuesday.

The company’s lander, Odysseus, captured the shots last Thursday shortly before making the first U.S. touchdown on the moon in more than 50 years. Odysseus landed on its side, hampering communication and power generation.

Once sunlight can no longer reach the lander’s solar panels, operations will end. Intuitive Machines expects that to happen sometime between Tuesday afternoon and early Wednesday. The mission, part of NASA’s effort to boost the lunar economy, was supposed to last until at least Thursday, when lunar nighttime sets in. NASA has six experiments on board.

Intuitive Machines is the first private business to land a spacecraft on the moon without crashing. Another U.S. company launched its own lunar lander last month, but a fuel leak doomed the mission and the craft came crashing back to Earth.

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