Sunday, February 25, 2024

Long list of things that went wrong with Intuitive Machines' moon lander this week

NY Times (the article also describes a lot of frantic software updates that salvaged a survivable landing):

When Odysseus arrived at the moon on Wednesday, it was supposed to enter a circular orbit about 62 miles above the surface. But because of inaccuracies in its trajectory, the spacecraft ended up in an elliptical orbit


when controllers checked the data the next morning — just hours before the planned landing on Thursday — they discovered that one laser had not fired. It was then discovered that the safety switches on the two range finder lasers were still enabled when Odysseus went to space.

There was no way to flip the switches


Because the spacecraft fell over, its antennas are not pointed directly at Earth, limiting the amount of information that can go back and forth


a small camera system built by students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., that was supposed to eject when Odysseus was about 100 feet above the ground and capture pictures of the landing.

There was not enough time to include the deployment of the camera in the patched landing software, so it remains attached to Odysseus