America Is Back On The Moon

[NASA/Apollo 11, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]

On December 14, 1972, the United States embarked on its last manned mission to the Moon with Apollo 17. Aboard the spacecraft were astronauts Eugene Cernan, Harrison Schmitt, and Ronald Evans. Their journey marked the culmination of the Apollo program, and their mission had a unique distinction — Cernan, the mission commander, became the last human to set foot on the lunar surface. Together, they conducted experiments, collected samples, and captured mesmerizing images of Earth from the Moon. 

As Cernan prepared to leave, he spoke the poignant words, “We leave as we came, and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind.” 

It may have been over 50 years, but the United States of America is back on the Moon. 

Smithsonian Magazine writes

Odysseus, an uncrewed lander from the company Intuitive Machines, touched down near the lunar south pole at 6:23 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday. It’s the first time a private American company has landed on the moon, and the achievement marks the first U.S. landing since the Apollo 17 mission.

“Odysseus is alive and well,” Intuitive Machines said in an update on its website Friday morning. “Flight controllers are communicating and commanding the vehicle to download science data.”

The company “aced the landing of a lifetime,” NASA administrator Bill Nelson says in a video posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Odysseus is carrying six NASA science investigations and technology demonstrations. The mission is part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative, through which the agency is paying private companies to send science and technology to the moon.

“The landing is a coup for NASA at a time when several nations are eyeing the moon, particularly the lunar south pole, where there is water in the form of ice,” writes The Washington Post. “Water is not only vital to sustaining human life, but the hydrogen and oxygen could also be used as rocket fuel.

The moon’s south pole ‘scientifically has been intriguing for a long time, in part because the rocks are really old,’ Glaze said. ‘We believe they’re at least 3.85 billion years old, which kind of goes back to the very early days of the moon. Getting information about those rocks eventually will be able to tell more about the history of the moon. And then, by knowing that history, it tells us more about the history of Earth.’

China has said it intends to land astronauts on the moon by 2030 and eventually build a research station there. Last month, Japan became the fifth country to land on the moon when its robotic spacecraft touched down — though on its side. In 2023, India landed a spacecraft on the moon as well.”

It’s good to be back. Make sure our flag is still standing. 

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  1. See Surveyor lunar probes sent prior Apollo missions

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