Florida: Private Space Company Launches to the Moon

Florida: Private Space Company Launches to the Moon
Photo: NASA / Handout via Getty Images

The Facts

  • A Houston-based private space exploration company, Intuitive Machines, launched its Odysseus moon lander from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida early Thursday morning. It was launched atop the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the company saying it detached less than an hour into the flight.

  • The spacecraft, nicknamed Odie, is orbiting around the Earth as far out as 380K km (236.1K miles) and is expected to turn on its motor roughly 18 hours into the flight. As it makes its way toward the lunar surface, the Moon's gravitational pull will guide Odie until its expected landing on Feb. 22.

The Spin

Narrative A

2024 will see a series of attempts made by NASA to once again reach the moon, hopefully culminating in manned missions. The long-term plan is to settle human beings on Earth's only natural satellite, making it the stepping stone for ventures into deep space. While the financial viability of such ambitions, especially for private parties, remains unclear, it is hoped that some form of lunar "commercial economy" will evolve as a result of these initiatives.

Narrative B

The very fact that no one tried to travel to the moon for decades must tell us something: it is a non-viable, pointless exercise. NASA has already spent more than $40B on its Artemis moon mission, and will likely rack up greater costs than even this staggering figure. NASA's plans have no real value to most people on Earth. We need to do more to improve things on this planet, instead of trying slingshots elsewhere.

Nerd narrative

There is a 50% chance that the next human being will walk on the moon by January 2029, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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