ODYSSEUS SPACECRAFT Syllabus GS Paper 3 – Sci and Tech)

News-CRUX-10     20th February 2024        
Samadhaan

Context: A robotic lunar lander recently launched into space; if all goes well, on February 22, it will mark the first time an American spacecraft has gently landed on the Moon's surface since the Apollo 17 moon landing in 1972.

o It would also become the first private effort to reach the surface of the Moon in one piece. Three earlier attempts, by an American company, a Japanese company and an Israeli nonprofit, failed.


Odysseus Spacecraft

  • About: The spacecraft launched by SpaceX was named Odysseus after a contest among employees of Intuitive Machines of Houston.
  • Inspiration Source: The engineer who proposed the name, drew inspiration from the travels of the hero of Odyssey, the ancient Greek epic poem.
  • Apt Analogy: Engineer highlighted that the journey of Odysseus in the epic poem parallels the challenges, setbacks, and delays of the lunar mission.
  • Journey Comparison: It emphasized that like Odysseus, the spacecraft faces numerous challenges akin to traversing the daunting, wine-dark sea.
  • Endurance and Success: Despite the trials, Odysseus in the epic poem proves worthy and successfully completes his journey, which parallels the mission's goal of "sticking the landing" after 10 years of development and challenges.


Significance

  • Cost-Effective: Private companies achieve lunar exploration at a fraction of NASA's costs.
  • Odysseus Lander: Odysseus lander arrives in Houston on February 1, 2023.

oRisk of financial loss for NASA in case of mission failure due to a crash.

  • Challenges in Commercial Lunar Missions: Astrobotic Technology's Peregrine mission faced technical malfunction. CLPS program includes missions by private companies Odysseus and Peregrine.
  • Expectations and Cost Savings in CLPS Program: Thomas Zurbuchen initiates the CLPS program at NASA in 2018.

oAnticipates a 50% failure rate in CLPS missions.

oDespite failures, CLPS missions offer significant cost savings compared to traditional NASA missions.

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