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The Odysseus landers enters around the moon.

ScienceThe Odysseus landers enters around the moon.

The first American mission to land on the moon in more than 50 years is expected to take place in the early evening on Thursday. As it prepared to land on the moon Thursday, Arrow Right said that it was in excellent health, circling the moon at an altitude of about 57 miles. The mission is being carried out under a $118 million contract with NASA, which is paying the company to deliver six scientific and technological payloads to the moon NASA hopes to land astronauts on the moon in the near future, and is working with the private sector to develop several robotic craft that will do that. One of the landing sites under consideration for the Artemis program is near a crater named after a 17th-century Belgian astronomer.

Six days after the craft lifted off on a rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, it entered the moon. Flight controllers will analyze the entire flight data over the next day while the lander is still on the moon, according to a post on X. Last month, another commercial space company, Astrobotic, tried to reach the moon, but failed due to an engine problem. Odysseus will lose contact with the ground for 45 minutes when it flies around the far side of the moon. Each pass will present a challenge for the craft as it alternates between the direct heat of the sun and the cold darkness behind the moon, which will need heat drawn from batteries to keep its system warm. The vehicle's cameras and lasers will feed data to the onboard computers that will autonomously guide it to a safe place on the surface. At 100 feet, it will flip itself to a vertical position with its landing legs pointing down.

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