Biden hails US lunar landing as space milestone

Biden hails US lunar landing as space milestone
Biden hails US lunar landing as space milestone

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - US President Joe Biden speaks to a bipartisan group of governors in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, during the National Governors Association Winter Meeting, on February 23, 2024. — AFP pic

WASHINGTON, Feb 24 — President Joe Biden today hailed the landing of a US spacecraft on the Moon as a historic achievement in space research led by the United States.

The uncrewed Odysseus lander, built by a private company and funded by NASA, landed near the lunar south pole Thursday, more than 50 years since the agency’s last Apollo 17 mission to Earth’s cosmic neighbour.

Biden called the landing “a thrilling step forward in a new era of space exploration” enabled by cooperation between the private and public sectors.

“It was made possible by American ingenuity, innovation, and curiosity,” he said in a statement. “America is leading the world back to the Moon.”

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Odysseus, which is the size of a large golf cart, is likely lying sideways on the Moon’s surface as ground controllers work to download data and surface photos from the robot, its makers said.

Intuitive Machines initially said that its hexagonal spaceship was upright, but its CEO later said that announcement was based on misinterpreted data.

It appears that Odysseus caught a foot on the surface and tipped over, coming to rest horizontally with its top perched on a small rock — taking some shine off the accomplishment.

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“America does hard things. We rise to the great scientific challenges of our time,” Biden’s statement said.

NASA paid Intuitive Machines US$118 million (RM564 million) to ship six experiments under an initiative that delegates cargo services to the private sector in a bid to achieve savings and stimulate a wider lunar economy.

The United States, along with international partners, wants to develop long-term habitats on the south pole, harvesting ice there for drinking water — and for rocket fuel for eventual onward voyages to Mars. — AFP

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