First commercial Moon mission marks new era for space travel

First commercial Moon mission marks new era for space travel
# 23 February 2024 18:50 (UTC +04:00)

The landing of a first commercial spacecraft on the Moon has sparked excitement about a new age of possibilities in the Solar System, APA reports citing BBC.

News of the touchdown of Odysseus near the lunar south pole was greeted with cheers by staff at American firm Intuitive Machines' (IM) mission control in Houston, Texas, on Thursday.

It is the first time an American craft has successfully landed on the Moon since 1972 - and the first time ever that a private company has done so.

But the giant leap for commercial kind could also help future state missions to the lunar surface and perhaps even aid plans to set up a lunar - or Martian - base for humans.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of America's most famous astrophysicists, believes missions of this kind "should have been happening decades ago."

But he told the BBC's Americast that further state-funded missions might be needed before many private businesses look seriously at opportunities in space, given the level of up-front funding needed to get ventures off the ground.

There are hopes that the touchdown could plant the seeds of a wider, thriving lunar economy. The vision involves a range of companies buying and selling services such as transport, communication and power.

Nasa is trying to encourage firms to get involved in exploration beyond Earth, with the US space agency engaging a number of companies to take its scientific instruments to the Moon. These private entities build, launch and operate their missions.

Nasa purchased room on Odysseus for six scientific instruments, and some of its equipment helped the robot craft overcome technical issues - demonstrating the capacity for private and state actors to co-operate successfully in the space exploration industry.

The mission is part of Nasa's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) programme, in which the agency is paying various private American companies for transport services to the Moon - in this particular case, with a fee of $118M (£93m).