Moon Lander Odysseus Falls Over on Moon
This image provided by Intuitive Machines shows a broken landing leg on the Odysseus lander. The lander touched down near the moon's south pole on Feb. 22, 2024, but then fell over on its side, hampering communications. (Intuitive Machines via AP)

Moon Lander Odysseus Falls Over on Moon

February 28th, 2024

A spacecraft named Odysseus went to the moon for the United States. It landed near the moon's south pole. But when it landed on February 22, one of its legs broke, and it fell over. This made it hard for it to talk to Earth. The company that made the spacecraft, Intuitive Machines, is trying to fix the problem. They took pictures to see how the spacecraft is lying on the moon. Odysseus is still making power from the sun, even on its side. But soon, it will be night on the moon. It will be very cold, and this might break the spacecraft. Everyone is waiting to see if it will still work after the long, cold night. Odysseus was trying to land on a flat area. But it landed one mile away on a hill because of a problem with its navigation system. Its engine was working, but it still fell over because it hit the ground too hard. The spacecraft carried different things to the moon. There was a flag from the old Apollo missions and some science tests from NASA, the space agency of the United States. NASA wants to send astronauts to the moon again. This is the first American spacecraft to land on the moon since the 1970s. It is also the first private company to land on the moon. Everyone thinks it is important even though it didn't go perfectly because it is just the first step in going back to the moon again.
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💭 Discussion Questions

. What is the name of the spacecraft that went to the moon?
. What happened to the spacecraft when it landed?
. Why is Odysseus' mission considered important despite the problems it faced?

📖 Vocabulary

🌐 Cultural context

The United States has a space agency called NASA that sends spacecraft to explore space. They went to the moon in the 1960s and 1970s. Now, a private company, not the government, sent a spacecraft to the moon.

🧠 Further reading

Chinese Lunar Exploration Program
China has a special space program for exploring the Moon called the Chang'e Project. It's named after the Chinese Moon goddess. They have been sending robotic spaceships to the Moon. These spaceships can go around the Moon, land on it, drive over it and bring back pieces of the Moon to Earth. They use big rockets called Long March to send these spaceships into space. The people in charge of this project have a big plan to land humans on the Moon by 2030. They watch the spaceships with big radio antennas in different cities. The antennas are very big, and they help the scientists to talk with the spaceships. There are smart people leading this project. One of them is a scientist named Ouyang Ziyuan. He thinks we can use special metals from the Moon and a kind of gas called helium-3. This gas can be used to make a lot of energy without pollution. The first time China sent a spaceship to go around the Moon was in 2007. After that, they sent more spaceships. One of them even had a small car (rover) that moved around on the Moon. It landed there in 2013. Another spaceship with a rover went to a very interesting place on the Moon in 2018 and landed there in 2019. They continue to work on this big project about the Moon.

Commercial use of space
People use space to make money by sending things into space. The first time this happened was in 1962 with a satellite called Telstar 1. This satellite helped send TV signals across the ocean. By 2004, people had spent over 50 billion US dollars on space things. In 1962, Telstar 1 was sent into space and was paid for by some phone companies. It could send TV, phone calls, and other things across the ocean. Later, in 1964, a satellite called Syncom 3 sent videos of the Olympic Games from Japan to the United States. Between 1960 and 1966, special weather satellites helped people predict the weather better. Another important satellite was Intelsat I, which made it easier to talk and share TV shows between Europe and North America. The Soviet Union also sent up a satellite for TV.

Renewable energy
Renewable energy comes from things that don't run out, like the sun, wind, water movement, and warmth from inside the earth. It can be used to make electricity, heating, and cooling. While most of it is good for our planet, some parts, like some ways we use plants for energy, might not be so good if we use them too much. Renewable energy is not just for big projects or cities; it is also perfect for small villages and countries that are still developing. It can help people live better lives. When we use more renewable energy, we often use more electricity because electricity doesn't make the air dirty when we use it. From 2011 to 2021, more of the world's electricity came from renewable energy. Less electricity came from fossil fuels, which are like coal and oil, and nuclear power. Especially power from the sun and wind became much more popular. Today, lots of countries are making laws about renewable energy, and China is making a lot of new renewable electricity. There are many jobs in this field, with most in solar energy, where we make electricity from sunlight. These jobs and technologies are growing fast and getting cheaper. Often, the cheapest way to make new electricity is with solar panels or windmills. In lots of countries, renewable energy is very important and gives them a big part of their energy. Some places even get more than half of their energy from renewable sources.