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Intuitive Machines says Odysseus has 'permanently faded' on the moon, but is planning another mission this year

By James Rogers

Intuitive Machines' IM-1 mission made history when Odysseus became the first commercial lander to successfully land on the lunar surface

Intuitive Machines Inc. says that its Odysseus lander has "permanently faded" and has no chance of waking up on the lunar surface, but the space-exploration company is preparing another mission to the moon later this year.

The company's IM-1 mission made history last month when Odysseus became the first commercial lander to successfully land on the lunar surface.

"We are still planning for a 2024 mission for IM-2," said Intuitive Machines' (LUNR) CEO Steve Altemus, during a conference call to discuss the company's fourth-quarter results Thursday. Intuitive Machines' moon lander technology is currently scheduled for at least two more missions under NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services Initiative, or CLPS program, according to Altemus.

Related: Intuitive Machines says good night to Odysseus and hopes moon lander will eventually 'phone home'

Odysseus ran out of power last month after its historic landing near the moon's south pole. Intuitive Machines had expressed hope that the spacecraft would "phone home" after enduring the cold lunar night. Intuitive Machines has had to overcome challenges during the mission - notably, the lander tipped over during its landing.

The company is applying what it learned during the IM-1 mission to IM-2, according to Altemus. "We have been through a review of reconstructing the mission and identified the areas that needed adjustments, you know, in terms of antennas and cameras and software changes, certainly a laser rangefinder enabled switch, harnessing improvements, those have all been made," he said, during the fourth-quarter conference call. "So we really don't see any impacts to the schedule based on the changes from IM-1, they're fairly straightforward."

"We are working with NASA, closely as NASA is repositioning our landing site," Altemus added. "They want to get to an area where they have some confidence that there might be water ice on the south pole."

Related: Odysseus lander makes history by reaching moon, as Intuitive Machines' stock rockets 35%

The area, known as the Shackleton Connecting Ridge, may have ice below the surface, according to NASA data from spacecraft orbiting the moon. NASA's Artemis program plans to establish a long-term human presence on the lunar surface, and aims to harness water ice for life support and fuel.

On Friday Intuitive Machines confirmed that Odysseus, dubbed "Odie," will not be waking up. "As of March 23rd at 1030 A.M. Central Standard Time, flight controllers decided their projections were correct, and Odie's power system would not complete another call home," Intuitive Machines wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. "This confirms that Odie has permanently faded after cementing its legacy into history as the first commercial lunar lander to land on the Moon."

Intuitive Machines shares fell 0.9% in premarket trades Monday after ending Friday's session up 2.7%.

Related: Odysseus has 'fundamentally changed the economics of landing on the moon,' says Intuitive Machines

Odysseus reached the lunar surface on Feb. 22, sending the company's stock soaring. The company's stock has risen 150.5% in 2024, outpacing the S&P 500 index's SPX gain of 9.7%.

-James Rogers

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03-25-24 0923ET

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