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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was launched on the morning of Feb. 15, carrying Intuitive Machine’s Nova-C lunar lander, Odysseus, another attempt by a commercial company to put a U.S. lander on the Moon. The lander carries a suite of instruments for probing the Moon’s surface: a Lunar Node 1 Navigation Demonstrator, which will demonstrate autonomous navigation; a Laser Retroreflector Array, which allows the detection of the distance between the lander and the orbiter; a Navigation Doppler Lidar for precise velocity and range testing, a Radio Frequency Mass Gauge, which measures the amount of propellant in a low gravity space environment; Radio Wave Observations at the Lunar Surface of the Photoelectron Sheath, which will observe the Moon’s surface environment in radio frequencies, as well as stereo cameras to examine how the lunar surface reacts to the spacecraft’s plume during and after descent. Odi, as it is affectionately called, is a part of the overall U.S. Artemis mission. If all goes well, it will be the first U.S. vehicle to land on the Moon since Apollo 17 in 1972.

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